Currently reading : The SKIN exhibition
As possibly the first, and certainly the most obvious, canvas upon which human differences can be written and read, skin has been a topic of continuous interest in anthropology and related disciplines from the earliest descriptions of exotic people to postmodern theorizing about the body in contemporary society.
Skin, as a visible way of defining individual identity and cultural difference, is not only a highly elaborated preoccupation in many cultures; it is also the subject of wide ranging and evolving scholarly discourse in the humanities and social sciences.
Although my focus is mainly on the anthropological literature, it is impossible to ignore work in other fields. Today, archaeologists and historians are rewriting the history of the body using evidence from newly discovered ancient bodies, artworks, and texts.
Discussions of contemporary “body work” merge the perspectives of anthropology, sociology, psychology, cultural studies, philosophy, and gender studies… each discipline mapping onto the body its shifting theoretical preoccupations.
Check out this silent film from 1926 that takes us “through the basic physiology of the human skin, combining anatomical education and basic healthcare advice. We see the epidermis and its replacement, the structure of the underlying dermis, nails, sweat glands and hair follicles.”
The ‘Skin’ exhibition was discovered by our editor Adeena Mey.