Body Modification: Anatomy, Alteration, and Art in Anthropogeny

Event Date (Pacific Time): 
Friday, Feb 9, 2024 - 10:00am to 2:30pm

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Event Chairs:

Mark Collard, Simon Fraser University
Francesco d'Errico, University of Bordeaux

Event Speakers:
Live Symposium Webcast:

Access to the live webcast for this symposium will be provided here on Friday, February 9 starting at 10:00 AM (Pacific Time).

Permanent body modification is an intriguing phenomenon. It is regularly practiced by living humans but is not seen in other extant mammals. It is highly variable within and between cultures. It is also often both expensive and risky. All of these characteristics—its uniqueness, its variability, and its actual or potential costliness—make permanent body modification an important behavior for scientists to understand. However, the scientific study of permanent body modification is in its infancy. The goal of this symposium is to provide a snapshot of where we are at with regard to research on permanent body modification and to identify questions that should be prioritized over the next decade. The symposium will bring together academics from a number of disciplines as well as practitioners from the permanent body modification industry. We will cover a wide range of historical and contemporary permanent body modification practices, including but not limited to tattooing, piercing, finger amputation, and cranial modification. In addition to considering the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of permanent body modification, we will delve into the motivations behind this behavior, considering both the personal justifications offered by participants and the scientific hypotheses proposed to explain it.

Event Sessions:
Speakers Session

Francesco d'Errico

A multistep evolutionary scenario for the culturalization of the human body

Ellen Gruenbaum

Female and male genital modification

Rosemary Joyce

Permanent body modification in Mesoamerica and Central America

Paul King

The recent history of piercing practices in Europe and North America

Shauna LaTosky

Lip plates in Ethiopia

Matt Lodder

The recent history of tattooing in Europe and North America

Brea McCauley

Permanent body modification: archaeological and early historical evidence

Ryan Nichols

Footbinding: A gene-culture co-evolutionary approach to a one thousand year tradition
'Footbinding' refers to a 1000-year-long practice in which ethnically Han Chinese families would modify the feet of young girls often by repeatedly wrapping the four small toes under the sole of the foot to maintain its small size, often breaking those toes in the process. Various explanations for the origins, maintenance, and cessation of footbinding have been proposed, and two stand out: the Labor Market Hypothesis and an Evolutionary Social Sciences Hypothesis. The purpose of this paper is... read more

John Willman

Dental ablation in Southern Europe, the Near East, and Africa

Registration Deadline: Friday, February 9, 2024 at 5:30 PM

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