chapter  8
Ink, holes and scars
Pages 24

The skin ± the largest organ ± is many things. It is the `scrim' on which we project our phantasies and fears (Mif¯in 1997). It is the ®rst point of meeting the other's touch. It is also a container: it keeps the inside intact. Skin thus acts as a boundary, lending a sense of being an interiority in relation to an exteriority. This boundary can be subjectively experienced as a site for meeting the other, or as a shield protecting the self from the other. The skin could be seen as a kind of `billboard' (Favazza 1996) where permanent messages are recorded, displayed and communicated to others. The messages they convey are multiple when one surveys the functions that body rituals involving markings of the skin have held historically and across cultures, for example, as signs of physical healing, spiritual salvation, inclusion and difference.