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Pitts-Taylor (sociology, Queens Coll., CUNY) has edited a distinctive and fascinating volume on the history and cultural meaning of the body and its disparate parts. It examines perceptions of the human corpus in world cultures and history and investigates the practices, mores, taboos, and rituals that affect and transform the body in those cultures. Written by sociologists, historians, anthropologists, and other scholars, the encyclopedia covers a wide range of cultures and historical time periods, giving a thorough overview of the place of the body in world history and societies. The signed entries are arranaged alphabetically by body part and include blood, the reproductive system, fat, and the genitals, which are further subdivided into subtopics such as female circumcision, foot binding, tattoos, and castration. There is a comprehensive index, and See also references at the end of some articles help locate subjects within the volumes that do not have their own entries. Each article contains suggestions for further reading, and a comprehensive bibliography for the entire resource is included in Volume 2. The clear writing will accommodate general readers. The entries themselves are evenhanded and steer clear of cultural judgments and bias.
—Amanda K. Sprochim