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Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 11, Issue 1, Summer 2004

Feminist Apporoaches to the Body

Laura Duhan Kaplan
Pages 13-17
DOI: 10.5840/pcw20041112

Disfigured Bodies and Social Identity
Ancient and Modern Reintegration Rituals

Beginning with a narrative about social reactions to my own temporary disfigurement, I note that an individual’s disfigurement can affect others by making them feel unsettled and unsafe. The contemporary approach to disfigurement, exemplified in the practice of cosmetic surgery, focuses on changing the disfigured individual. In contrast, ancient priestly rituals in Israelite culture focus on reintegrating the individual into the community. I compare and contrast the two approaches, noting the value of reintegration rituals, but also recognizing their insufficiency in several contemporary situations.