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Amputations and invocations: a study of limb amputation in Malta

Sultana, V.; (2011) Amputations and invocations: a study of limb amputation in Malta. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Based on ethnographic research, “Amputations and Invocations” is a study of Maltese amputees. It is an examination of how the body is rebuilt following lower limb amputation surgery within a Maltese context. The study contributes to current arguments in medical anthropology because it shows how the body is a cultural artifact not only in its presence but also in its absence. The amputated person becomes the pragmatisation of significant aspects of Maltese culture. Roman Catholic beliefs, biomedical interventions and family support are simultaneously invoked when a person loses part of the body. These invocations reflect how society conditions the way fragmented bodies are perceived and rebuilt. This profound human change was interpreted from an emic and etic perspective by examining this experience as a symbolic “rite de passage” and by applying an original framework based on the Roman Catholic belief in Death and Resurrection. These explanatory models helped bridge the difficulty that arises when the ethnographer, without self-experience of amputation, writes about such a non-ordinary human experience. Various levels of analysis revealed that body rebuilding following limb amputation is not just a matter of substituting the flesh with technology. Rebuilding the mutilated body entails facing challenges imposed not only by the body with missing limbs, but also by society's reaction to the mutilated, broken body.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Amputations and invocations: a study of limb amputation in Malta
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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