Pollution and Purity along the Ganga River

Fiona Marten


This paper contrasts how religious practitioners in Varanasi and the Indian state rely on the categories of pollution and purity to make claims about the proper relationships and responsibilities between humans and the river. These divergent claims have led to conflict between the state and those who use the river water in religious practices. Marten utilizes two strands of anthropological theory to analyze these conflicts: ontological critiques of the nature/culture divide, and theorizations of the connections between the supposedly separate realms of the religious and the secular.

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