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Title: A life lived : experiencing an acquired facial 'disfigurement' and identity shift
Author: Martindale, Anne-Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5352 1387
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2014
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With the advent of facial transplantation some academic authors have suggested that faces are significant for humans and that identities are located corporeally within faces and therefore transplantable. However, there has been little evidence to support these claims, particularly from a qualitative, theoretically informed social science background. Responding to this hiatus, in this thesis I set two interconnected research objectives: • to examine socio-cultural values associated with human faces in predominantly Western societies using secondary sources; • to explore the relationship between acquired facial ‘disfigurement’ and embodied identity shift using a narrative methodology. The first objective was addressed in full through an analytical review of largely Western secondary sources. It has become clear that faces, as part of bodies, are imbued with a variety of socio-cultural meanings on multiple levels. Individually people experience the world through their body and their face, making it a significant site for perception and sense making. On a societal level, faces and facial appearance have been associated with social reproduction (Giddens, 1991). For example, inaccurate and harmful historical associations between facial appearance and moral character still pervade British society. And, utilising the concept of faciality (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p.168) Twine (2002), Dudley (2002) and Benson (2008) have illustrated that the faces of people in sub-sections of society, generally those with very little power, can be conceptualised negatively and used to serve the interests of powerful elites. In terms of the second objective, most facial ‘disfigurement’ research has been completed using quantitative methods, resulting in partial knowledge and the disconnection of persons. Through the use of a phenomenological epistemology, embodiment position and a narrative methodology I have put the experiences of the 13 participants at the heart of the research. The analysis chapters focus on the participants’ embodied identities before, during and after an acquired facial ‘disfigurement’. In terms of conclusions, I have found that faces are important however, identities are not located within them but created and reshaped through embodied life experiences. I have also found that the relationship between embodied identity shift and acquired facial ‘disfigurement’ is one of contested negotiation between wider socio-cultural facial values, transitional/liminal identity states during and after the event(s) and the aim of previous identity restoration.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GN Anthropology ; H Social Sciences (General) ; HM Sociology ; RD Surgery