Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | April 21, 2010

A Brief History of Nakedness

Next on ‘Thinking Allowed’: Today, 16:00 on BBC Radio 4


Nakedness can thrill, it can disgust, it can humiliate, amuse and entertain. The sight of humans without clothes provokes powerful and contradictory impressions: it is both the shame of Adam and Eve as they are expelled from Eden and the purity of Jesus as he is baptised; both the humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the exuberance of young people at a rock festival. The power of the taboo against nakedness in Western culture has meant that it is a potent form of protest, but as films like the Full Monty and plays like Calendar Girls bring it into the mainstream, have our attitudes to nakedness changed? Laurie discusses A Brief History of Nakedness with its author Philip Carr-Gomm and the sociologist Angela McRobbie.
Also, the geographer Danny Dorling argues that inequality in the rich world is perpetuated by five ingrained beliefs: elitism is efficient; exclusion is necessary; prejudice is natural; greed is good; despair is inevitable. He uses his social research to argue that those beliefs are nothing more than myths.

Hear the programme here.


    1. Just listened to this on iPlayer – didn’t have time to hear the rest of the programme, and noted that it was in the “…and finally” slightly amusing slot at the end of the programme.

      Having said that, while slightly tongue in cheek, it seemed to be straightforward and the whole feel of it was, “What on earth were we making such a fuss about people being naked”. Which is another tiny small step towards the de-diabolization of nakedness (did I just coin a word there?)…

      Good intelligent discussion and the woman from Goldsmiths was an intelligent and welcome contributor. Well done, Philip, will look out for the book as well.

    2. Philip! I would love a signed copy of this history for Eric (my partner) and our classes at the Web PATH center. We will be in England in May and June, and specifically in Sussex and May 12-16. Any chance we can get together so I can buy and you can sign?

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