Our bodies are shaped by society and culture just as they are shaped by evolution and biology.


At the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography many of the team are fascinated by bodies, be that evolutionary adaptations in primates, how we adorn ourselves, keeping our bodies healthy or how our bodies are treated after death.


Publications from members of staff

Explore a range of publications that touch on the human body. These publications are by current members of staff at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography but some may have been published whilst they were at other institutions.

Some journals my require a subscription.

Ichi: Marks in Time (trailer)

In 1911, the British government anthropologist Northcote Thomas made a study of the Igbo-speaking people of Nigeria. Among the thousands of photographs he took are many portraits of men whose faces are covered with scarification marks known as ‘ichi’. At first sight these images of deeply scarred faces seem to confirm colonial-era imaginaries of African customary practices. Reintroducing the 110-year old photographs to the Umudioka community in Neni, however, provokes a cultural revival as the history of ichi is retold and re-enacted. The Umudioka people are the historical custodians of ichi. In this creative documentary, filled with colour, dance, masquerade and song, the descendants of those photographed tell the story of their ancestors and their profession as traditional ‘tattooers’.

This feature-length documentary was made collaboratively by Paul Basu, Christopher Thomas Allen of The Light Surgeons and with members of the Umudioka community in Neni, Anambra State, Nigeria.

The co-created film was made as part of Paul Basu’s [Re:]Entanglements project. It tells a story of cultural resilience, colonialism and the power of photographs to transcend the context of their production.