There is a substantial theory (modelled on permutation representations of groups) of representations of an inverse semigroup S in a symmetric inverse monoid IX, that is, a monoid of partial one-to-one selfmaps of a set X. The present paper describes the structure of a categorical dual I*X to the symmetric inverse monoid and discusses representations of an inverse semigroup in this dual symmetric inverse monoid. It is shown how a representation of S by (full) selfmaps of a set X leads to dual pairs of representations in IX and I*X, and how a number of known representations arise as one or the other of these pairs. Conditions on S are described which ensure that representations of S preserve such infima or suprema as exist in the natural order of S. The categorical treatment allows the construction, from standard functors, of representations of S in certain other inverse algebras (that is, inverse monoids in which all finite infima exist). The paper concludes by distinguishing two subclasses of inverse algebras on the basis of their embedding properties.