Mary Douglas Fan Page

Photo from the University of Pennsylvania's Almanac, v. 46, no. 27, April 4, 2000. On her reception of an honorary degree.

Sad News

I am very sorry to report that Dr. Mary Douglas (March 25 1921 - May 16 2007) passed away.

I never had the privilege to meet Dr. Douglas in person, nor corresponded with her. But, I deeply appreciated the wisdom, knowledge, and spirit that she conveyed so clearly in her research and writing.


As more obituaries and memoriams are published, I will update this page.

Mary Douglas was my first theoretical/methodological "crush". I first encountered her work in a class on natural resource management I took as an undergraduate way back in 1986. It was her Risk and Culture. I had almost forgotten her, when I began to think about C-section and so forth as a research subject and read her essays in Risk and Blame. I most recently read Thought Styles and I am very taken with her "grid-group analysis".

You can find out more about her life and work in  Mary Douglas : an intellectual biography by Richard Fardon ( London: Routledge, 1999). It's available at HKUST Library  at call # GN21.D68 F37 1999 and at HKU Main Library at call no. 305.8B D7 F .

Here's a presentation on her Purity and Danger that I gave on February 9, 2002.

Here are some links ABOUT Mary Douglas that I've assembled.

Professor Mary Douglas celebrates DBE at UCL Anthropology (March 6, 2007)
- news report that Prof. Douglas was awarded DBE in the 2007 New Years Honours.

Mary Douglas - Wikipedia entry Mary Douglas
- a brief biography and bibliography of her work, from (October 29, 2006).

2 minute excerpt from Mary Douglas Interviews by Alan MacFarlane - February 26, 2006
Full Interview (1 hour, 25 minutes.

Anatomy of Disgust - From a Channel 4 documentary about disgust, decsribes some of her arguments about why we find anomalous things disgusting.

Douglas, Mary Tew
A brief biographic entry from Encyclopedia of Religion and Society describing her life and work (October 2006).

Mary Douglas - Forum Speaker.
Brief description of her life and work from the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization Forum 2006.

Professor Mary Douglas (2001).
Brief descriptions of her life and work from when Brunel University gave her an honorary degree.

Bibliography of her work assembled by the Université de Neuchâtel - Institut d'ethnologie (2000)

Grid-Group Research going on at Grinnel College in Iowa under professor Douglas Caulkins.

Honorary Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000

An Interview with Mary Douglas, published in the International Leadership Digest, April 2003

An Interview with Mary Douglas by John Clay of (2001; rev. 2003)

Mary Douglas and The Anthropology of Risk - a presentation by Les Gofton (a lecturer at the University of Newcastle)

Mary Douglas at 80 from Commonweal Magazine

Purity & Pollution - The Meaning of Difference
A one page discussion of some of her ideas, by Professor T. C. Bestor, 1999.

Risky Business: Changing Landscapes of Anthropology Stirling Memorial Lecture delivered at the University of Kent at Canterbury, 14th Feb. 2001 by Pat Caplan, Professor of Anthropology, Goldsmiths College [no relation of the author of this web-page, as far as I know]

Thought Styles - a book review by Geoff Cooper of the University of Surrey's Department of Sociology.

Here are some links to things BY Mary Douglas

Grid and Group - New Developments a workshop prepared by Professor Douglas and given at the Workshop on Complexity and Cultural Theory in Honour od Michael Thompson, held at the LSE on 27 June 2005.

In October 2003 she gave Yale University's Dwight Terry Lecture  for 2003. Here is her brief description of the four lectures she gave on the theme "Writing in Circles: Ring Composition as a Creative Stimulus." They will later be made into a book. Here's the press release.

"Anthropology and Comparative Religion" By Mary Douglas and Edmund F. Perry. Theology Today,  January 1985, Vol. 41, No. 4, p. 410-427.


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last revised 21 May 2007
(c) Victoria Caplan