Feet and Footwear
A Cultural Encyclopedia
by Margo DeMello
September 2009, 360pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-35714-5
$96, £74, 84€, A132
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-0-313-35715-2
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This exhaustive A-Z cultural encyclopedia is a must-have for library shelves, covering all aspects of the human foot: worldwide contemporary culture; socio-historical traditions, customs and beliefs; health and medical issues; and popular culture surrounding feet and footwear throughout the ages.

Take a walk in someone else’s shoes in this fascinating examination of shoes and feet around the world! This one-of-a-kind A-Z reference work contains over 150 fascinating entries and intriguing sidebars that look at feet and adornment of feet across the many cultures of the world throughout time. A wide range of international and multicultural topics are covered, including foot binding, fetishes, diseases of the foot, customs and beliefs related to the foot, shoe construction, myths and folktales featuring feet or shoes, the history of footwear, iconic brands and types of shoes, important celebrities associated with shoes, and the types of footwear worn around the world. This exhaustive compilation is ideal for students and general readers interested in the human body, fashion, and medicine, and even scholars looking for more in-depth coverage on the social and cultural uses of the body will find it as a useful starting point in their research. Cross-references, suggestions for further reading, and a full bibliography of print and electronic resources are valuable tools for all readers.

Students can use this reference work to draw cross-cultural comparisons, as well as study the evolution of footwear in terms of social, religious, and ethnic parameters. Aside from iconic American brands and types of shoes, this volume will also look at how feet are treated and viewed around the globe: removing shoes upon entering a house, washing feet for religious purposes, giving feet the spa treatment, and covering feet up for social customs. Perfect for undergraduate and high school students studying anthropology and world culture.


  • Photos and illustrations
  • Cross-references
  • Suggestions for further reading and a full bibliography of print and electronic resources


"DeMello (sociology, cultural studies, and anthropology; Central New Mexico Community College) has written previously about body ornament, among other topics. Here she limits herself to one dimension of the body and lets all the other dimensions flow free. A brief sampling of entries includes Alaska, Cinderella, crush videos, Dr. Scholl’s, flat feet and fallen arches, hosiery, jack boots, moccasins, Nike, pedicure, reflexology, sandals, socks, Spice Girls, These Boots are Made for Walkin, webbed toes, and The Wizard of Oz."—Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2009

"Talk about walking in someone else’s shoes. This encyclopedia, written by a cultural anthropologist, walks us through the history of shoes and the feet that wear them, from Achilles to the Wizard of Oz. . . . Though it is aimed at the general reader, the encyclopedia has enough research and documentation to make it of use to students and scholars. Recommended for academic and large public libraries."—Booklist, January 1, 2010

"In this intriguing volume, DeMello (Central New Mexico Community College) covers feet and footwear through the ages. . . . This is another fascinating, very readable reference volume from Greenwood, full of curiosities. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; general readers."—Choice, March 1, 2010
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