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Mutilating the Body
Identity in Blood and Ink
Kim Hewitt

Popular Press

This scholarly discussion places acts of body mutilation within a conceptual framework that explores their similarities and dissimilarities, but ultimately interprets them as acts that ask to be witnessed. The author explores self-mutilation through history and across cultural divisions, finding these acts "positive expressions of social custom, individualism and resourcefulness . . . symptomatic of crises of identity, religious faith, or modern social structures." In modern contexts, such ancient rituals continue to function as an avenue of symbolic death and rebirth.

In her analysis of the origins and motivations of body modification, Kim Hewitt draws upon psychological, medical, and cultural theories on self-inflicted pain-tattooing and scarification as well as fasting, bulimia, and some performance art. She finds such acts of self-mutilation in present-day America may "express a change in how society perceives marginalization."

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Cover of Mutilating the Body is pea-green with an illustration of a heavily tattooed woman.

LC: 96-035524
172 pp.   6 x 9
7 b/w photos
ISBN-10: 0-87972-710-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-87972-710-9
Paper $16.95 t

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Updated November 16, 2009

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