Marking the body, marking the soul
Summers, Megan Rae
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In this work I will examine the importance of ritual, particularly embodied ritual practices, in religious systems. Body modification is a very rich and meaningful religious ritual. One example of body modification, tattooing, has been practiced by people from various cultures for thousands of years. This tribal practice has deep religious significance. By examining classical rites of passage in their academic and practical context I will argue that tattooing fits this model of an initiatory rite of passage. I will also evaluate the historical and contemporary uses of voluntary physical pain and show how pain can foster religious experience. I will use research and field experience about Hawaiian tattooing to show how tattooing functions in tribal societies as well as modern ones. Lastly, I will use Foucault’s philosophical framework to evaluate female genital mutilation in the context of involuntary physical pain and body mutilation.