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acknowledgments The idea for this book originated in the context of a panel presentation titled ‘‘The Politics of Dirt and Nudity in Africa’’ which I organized and chaired at the 2000 American Anthropological Association annual meeting in San Francisco . The papers by Misty Bastian, Deborah Durham, and myself were first presented there. They were enriched by the critical suggestions provided by our discussant, Janice Boddy, and by the challenging questions raised by our audience. When I raised the possibility of publishing the papers together as a collection, my fellow panelists, including our discussant, responded enthusiastically . Eventually, I decided to expand the volume’s geographic and cultural range to include contributions dealing with other regions of the world. I solicited abstracts and papers from a range of non-Africanist colleagues and, thanks to additional contributions by Janet Bauer, Katherine Frank, Satsuki Kawano, Sarah Lamb, and Margaret Wiener, had the good fortune of ending up with this remarkable collection of essays. I am therefore profoundly grateful to all the contributors—an extraordinary bunch of scholars whose work has strongly influenced me. Misty Bastian deserves very special thanks: she read more drafts of the introduction than anyone else, each time providing generous comments. This book has other, more indirect origins as well. Through my work on bori spirit possession and Islam in Niger, I became interested in the issues of bodiliness and power, purity and transgression. Yet the scarce and scattered literature on these topics frustrated my attempts to deal critically with these issues when I encountered them. Compiling this volume and writing the introduction has given me an excuse to think comparatively (and at times obsessively) about dirt and undress. Over the last three years, some of my students at Tulane have probably heard more than they ever wanted to know about the power of filth and the politics of nudity. Some have offered support and inspiration, for which I am grateful. To Tim Knowlton I am especially indebted for his careful and efficient sifting of the literature on soap and hygiene. Rebecca Golden also provided valuable research assistance. I am grateful for the advice, encouragement, and enthusiasm provided along the way by Rebecca Tolen at Indiana University Press. It has been a pleasure working with her. Special thanks are due to Shoshanna Green and Jane Lyle for their expert assistance in the final preparation of the manuscript. Acknowledgments x Dorothy Ko and Brad Weiss did an extraordinary job of reviewing the manuscript . Aside from expressing a keen interest in the project, they provided precious insights which have helped greatly in the revision process. My heartfelt thanks go out to both of them. Bill More was not directly involved in this project, but without the logistical support and attentive partnership he offered, this book probably would not exist. A grant from the American Council of Learned Societies in 2004–2005 enabled me to devote myself fully to my editorial responsibilities. Last but not least, my daughters, Margaux, Eléonore, and Julia, deserve credit for reminding me almost daily that some of the most significant struggles over the definition of personal hygiene and propriety occur right in our homes. Dirt, Undress, and Di√erence ...