María Lugones describes as ‘impure community' a view of community predicated on an understanding of people as plural, multiply situated subjects. She uses the term to describe an epistemological stance that resists both the fiction that disparate human histories are discrete and unrelated, and the urge to reduce differences to homogenised or fantasised sameness. Lugones articulates a crucial tension for those concerned with the politics and possibilities of internationalised education: how in educational contexts marked by the use of hard-edged (international/local, us/them) distinctions, we might foster human solidarity and a blurring of ‘edges’, while holding human complexity central. In this paper, I discuss the messy actualities of developing a social group for ‘international’ and ‘New Zealand’ women as part of my doctoral research. I reflect on the practicalities involved, women's perspectives on the group, and the limits and possibilities of impurity as a framework for contact in internationalised higher education.