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Inscribing the Body

Enid Schildkrout
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 33 (2004), pp. 319-344
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25064856
Page Count: 26
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Inscribing the Body
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Abstract

Inscriptions on the body, especially tattoo, scarification, and body paint, have been part of ethnographic literature since before the birth of anthropology as a discipline. Anthropology's origins as the study of the exotic Other can be seen in the early descriptions of the body art of non-Western peoples. Anthropologists have generally focused on how the inscribed body serves as a marker of identity in terms of gender, age, and political status. More recently, scholars interested in this subject have looked also at issues of modernity, authenticity, and representation. The recent focus on the inscribed body responds to postmodern theory, the importance of body art in contemporary Western culture, reflections on the meaning of representations of the exotic, and an interest in the visible surface of the body as the interface between the individual and society. This article reviews recent literature in anthropology and related disciplines pertaining to the cultural construction of the inscribed body.

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