Call for Book Chapters: Filth, Dirt, Im/Purity and Feminine Care

Women share a close and unavoidable connection with im/purity, filth, and dirt in their routines of care and caring. Words like 'filth', 'dirt', and 'purity' are loaded with colonial meanings and can become extremely complicated when understood from the socio-cultural-historical lens. Through the postcolonial appropriations, these meanings have subsequently contributed to the patriarchal assumptions and gendered ideas about women's roles, especially in their handling of filth and dirt, within their daily duties of selfless care, nursing, cooking, cleaning, and mothering. Moreover, narratives of women subjected to sexual and gender-based violence while continuing their care duties are not new. The essentialized idea of feminine care culture remains strong in our contemporary public discourses and becomes complex when they get entwined within the intersectional politics of the age, class, caste, race, and religion. Joan Tronto's work (1993; 2010), for example, has consistently argued that care is disproportionately the work of the marginalized in society and, as such, distributed along intersectional social axes encouraging a power hierarchy between who is more experienced in handling filth. Thus, while Carol Gilligan's (1982) (in)famous theorization of 'ethics of care' voices for woman's morality and care as a powerful counter to male-centered epistemology on justice (bridging the equality),  it also reinforced essentialist and stereotypical notions of femininity, care work and motherhood that leave out women who do not meet the criteria.

Furthermore, care, like gender, is also a performance that has been represented through media, where women's efficiency in filth and dirt management has always been glorified within hegemonic gender norms. Popular culture portrays images of how ideal women should give up their desires and aspirations to selflessly perform their care as wives, mothers, and grandmothers, adopting duties of the household and beyond, in their routine dealings with filth and dirt, without any grudge or cringe. These images have seen an unquestioned internalization by both male and female spectators, which has further led to the normalization of these expectations even today despite the abundant presence of feminist movements and ideologies (especially transnational feminism) that have challenged dominant ideas of caregiving. At the same time, some recent subversive renditions have been able to radicalize this internalization.


For this book, we seek chapters that expand our knowledge about the underexplored domain of feminine care and also question the hegemonic feminine care culture as a whole. We particularly encourage chapters that focus on Global South and that not only discuss feminine care duties/care epistemology in handling filth, dirt, and im/purity but also contest the larger relationship of feminine bodies with filth, dirt, and im/purity and feminine care culture.


Possible topics may include, but not are not limited to:

  • Filth, Dirt, and im/purity and feminine care culture and /or ethics

  • Performances of essentialization and transgressions of feminine handling of filth, dirt, and beyond

  • Representations of feminine care, filthy bodies, and ideal womanhood

  • Intersectional approach (race, class, caste, sexuality, age, religion, dis/ability, and gender) to understanding feminine care

  • Feminine care and Motherhood/ing or grandmotherhood/ing

  • Masculinity and feminine care culture

  • Feminine care culture and the intricacies of sexual, verbal, emotional, and intimate partner violence

  • Radical politics of love in understanding feminine care culture

  • Undoing feminine care, feminine filth, and feminine impurity


Please submit a 250-word abstract and a brief biography to Madhurima Guha at , by August 30th, 2023. You may also direct your questions to the same email.


Full papers should be no longer than 8000 words and will be due by December 30th, 2023. All submissions will be peer-reviewed.

This proposal is due on August 30th 2023.

Page last updated on July 25th 2023. All information correct at the time, but subject to change.