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Thinking Allowed Special at The Wellcome Collection

Updated Wednesday, 8th June 2011

In this special edition of the guide to the latest in social science, Laurie Taylor and guests consider dirt - and how we live with it.

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Dirt is dust, soil, refuse, excrement, bacteria, filth, sleaze, slime, smut. How easily the word changes its meaning from the physical to the moral. It is this fascinating relationship and threat which dirt seems to pose that is explored in the Wellcome Collection's exhibition 'Dirt: The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life'.

The Wellcome building in Euston, London Creative commons image Icon ell brown under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license
The home of the Wellcome Collection in Euston, London

In a special edition recorded with an audience of the public at Wellcome, Laurie Taylor and a panel of experts explore the meaning of dirt, its relationship to order and how hygiene and the mass generation of dirt have become such potent symbols of civilisation.

He is joined by the anthropologist Adam Kuper, the writer and cartoonist Martin Rowson and the historian Amanda Vickery to discuss dirt and why it provokes such fear, loathing and occasionally desire.

This edition of Thinking Allowed is a co-production between the BBC and The Open University. You can hear it on BBC Radio 4 at 4pm on Wednesday 8th June, 2011 and again at a quarter past midnight on Monday morning, 13th June. Further broadcast details, podcast and listen again links are at

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