As contributors to this special edition show in different ways, purity itself is a less stable concept than may first appear. This insight, however, is not always reflected in dominant theory on the topic. Contributions to this special edition are therefore placed in dialogue with a metanarrative regarding the role of purity in Western history, presented by the influential Harvard sociologist Barrington Moore Jr.. In effect, discussion of Moore’s narrative on purity is a way to expose it differently, allowing the reader to reconsider Moore’s claims. In turn, we hope that the special issue’s contributions will be exposed differently in light of work to refine and redefine Moore’s overarching thesis.