Car crashes, wars and cancer: disrupted facial boundaries and embodied identity shift
Anne-Marie Martindale (University of Manchester)
Paper short abstract:
The presentation will explore the relationship between socio-culturally situated body-faces, facial boundary disruption, and embodied identification. I argue that identities are not located in faces, but within persons, experiences, contexts and always in relations to others.
Paper long abstract:
The recent emergence of facial transplantation (2005+) as an extreme form of reconstructive surgery has led to papers which explore the possible impacts of living with someone else's face. One theme considers the role of the face in identity formation. Influenced by bio-medicine's Cartesian dualist roots, there is an assumption underpinning some papers that 'identity' must change, as it is 'located' in the face (Perpich, 2010). The presentation will explore the relationship between socio-culturally situated body-faces, facial boundary disruption, and embodied identification. I took an explicitly embodied to the research, in this case 13 ethnographic narrative interviews conducted across England with people with an acquired facial 'disfigurement', in their homes, using photographs to aid discussion. During the presentation, I will argue that embodied identities are not attached to or located within faces, but within persons, experiences, contexts and always in relations to others (Grosz, 1994; Csordas, 1997). I will discuss the relationship between unhabitual facial change and identity transition, characterising it as the negotiation of wider socio-cultural values about faces, ritual transitional states during and after the event (Douglas, 2002) and one of revised embodiment. (References Csordas, T. J. (1997). The Sacred Self: A Cultural Phenomenology of Charismatic Healing. Berkeley, University of California Press. Douglas, M. (2002). Purity and danger [electronic book]:an analysis of concept of pollution and taboo / Mary Douglas, London : Routledge, 2002. Grosz, E. (1994). Volatile Bodies Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press. Perpich, D. (2010). "Vulnerability and the ethics of facial tissue transplantation." Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 7(2): 173-185.)
Skulls, faces and being human