Faces around the World
A Cultural Encyclopedia of the Human Face
by Margo DeMello
February 2012, 337pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-59884-617-1
$108, £84, 94€, A148
eBook Available: 978-1-59884-618-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Across all human cultures, the face is arguably the more significant part of the body. From the near-infinite nuances of facial expressions to the immense cultural significance of facial decoration to the physiological functions of our eyes, ears, noses, and mouths, the face remains the single most important way that we communicate and perceive the world.

This book provides a comprehensive examination of the human face, providing fascinating information from biological, cultural, and social perspectives.

Our faces identify who we are—not only what we look like and what ethnicities we belong to, but they can also identify what religions we practice and what personal ideologies we have. This one-of-a-kind A–Z reference explores the ways we change, beautify, and adorn our faces to create our personalities and identities.

In addition to covering the basics such as the anatomical structure and function of parts of the human face, the entries examine how the face is viewed around the world, allowing students to easily draw connections and differences between various cultures around the world. Readers will learn about a wide variety of topics, including identity in different cultures; religious beliefs; folklore; extreme beautification; the “evil eye;” scarification; facial piercing and facial tattooing masks; social views about beauty including cosmetic surgery and makeup; how gender, class and sexuality play a role in our understanding of the face; and skin, eye, mouth, nose, and ear diseases and disorders. This encyclopedia is ideal for high school and undergraduate students studying anthropology, anatomy, gender, religion, and world cultures.


  • A complete bibliography of sources and index of subjects
  • Includes 100 images, numerous sidebars, and interesting "pop-out" quotes related to the face
Margo DeMello, PhD, lectures at Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque, NM, teaching sociology, cultural studies, and anthropology. She received her doctorate in cultural anthropology from University of California, Davis, CA. Her published works include Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community; Stories Rabbits Tell: A Natural and Cultural History of a Misunderstood Creature; Why Animals Matter: The Case for Animal Protection; Encyclopedia of Body Adornment; Feet and Footwear: A Cultural Encyclopedia; and Teaching the Animal: Human Animal Studies Across the Disciplines.


"This work is an interesting resource and study on the importance of the human face and how it is a reflection of the world we live in and our cultural environment. . . . It would be useful as a resource for high school and undergraduate students writing papers in the areas of anthropology, ethnic studies, and sociology, or could be used in a classroom setting to spur discussions on different views of beauty throughout the world."—ARBA, January 1, 2013

"The concept will capture the curiosity and attention of middle and high school students and the contents may inspire further research for their own interests or as part of a cultural study. Topics range alphabetically from Acne and Acupuncture through Veiling and Warts. In between there are articles on familiar subjects such as piercing and tattooing (several entries on each) and the unusual, like gurning (making awkward, ugly faces). From chakras to makeup, this will keep drawing readers in as they discover more than they ever thought possible about faces."—The School Librarian's Workshop, June 1, 2012

"Concise entries with suggestions for further reading make this an ideal source for students. . . . This interesting introduction consolidates hard-to-find information and provides many resources for continued exploration."—Library Journal, May 15, 2012

"The encyclopedia contains a broad mix of entries covering different physical and social representations of the face, from anthropometry to tattoos and even phrases and symbols. Vividly illustrated and rich in cultural detail, Faces Around the World will appeal to most students, for both browsing and searching."—Reference Reviews, July 1, 2012
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