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Books, Journals, New Media
June 20, 2001

CelibacyCelibacy, Culture, and Society: The Anthropology of Sexual Abstinence

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available


edited by Elisa J. Sobo and Sandra Bell, 269 pp, $55, ISBN 0-299-17160-4, paper, $22.95, ISBN 0-299-17164-7, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.

JAMA. 2001;285(23):3028-3029. doi:10.1001/jama.285.23.3028-JBK0620-3-1

Celibacy, Culture, and Society offers an in-depth examination of the anthropology of sexual abstinence. This edited volume includes chapters by a variety of individuals, using diverse perspectives. The goal is "to explore . . . examples of the occurrences, perceptions, and meanings of celibacy."

A definite strength is the space devoted to comparative analysis of sexual abstinence, as evidenced by several chapters dealing with non-Western cultures, including India, Mexico, Southeast Asia, Chile, and Kenya. Historical and individual perspectives on celibacy are also represented in this edited volume. Chapters are organized under three main themes: "Celibacy, Kinship, and Social Organization," "Celibacy in Cultural Systems," and "Celibacy, Choice, and Control."

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