1st Edition

Tattoo Histories Transcultural Perspectives on the Narratives, Practices, and Representations of Tattooing

Edited By Sinah Theres Kloß Copyright 2020
    336 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Tattoo Histories is an edited volume which analyses and discusses the relevance of tattooing in the socio-cultural construction of bodies, boundaries, and identities, among both individuals and groups. Its interdisciplinary approach facilitates historical as well as contemporary perspectives. Rather than presenting a universal, essentialized history of tattooing, the volume’s objective is to focus on the entangled and transcultural histories, narratives, and practices related to tattoos. Contributions stem from various fields, including Archaeology, Art History, Classics, History, Linguistics, Media and Literary Studies, Social and Cultural Anthropology, and Sociology. They advance the current endeavour on the part of tattoo scholars to challenge Eurocentric and North American biases prevalent in much of tattoo research, by including various analyses based in locations such as Malaysia, Israel, East Africa, and India. The thematic focus is on the transformative capacity of tattoos and tattooing, with regard to the social construction of bodies and subjectivity; the (re-)creation of social relationships through the definition of (non-)tattooed others; the formation and consolidation of group identities, traditions, and authenticity; and the conceptualization of art and its relevance to tattoo artist–tattooee relations.


    1. Indelible Ink: An Introduction to the Histories, Narratives, and Practices of Tattooing

    Sinah Theres Kloß

    Part I: Tattoos as Individual or Communal Body Projects

    2. "I Just Want It to Look Pretty": Reproducing Heteronormative Gender Roles through Tattoo Reality TV: Miami Ink

    Verena Hutter

    3. Identity, Gender Roles, and Tattooing among Italian Lesbian Women

    Alessandra Castellani

    4. Mi Familia: Latina Women in the US Negotiate Identity and Social Sanctions through Tattooing

    Beverly Yuen Thompson

    Part II: Tattoos and Othering

    5. "If Skin Were Parchment": Tattoos in Antiquity

    Martin T. Dinter and Astrid Khoo

    6. Marking France’s Enemies: Masculinity, Sexuality, and the Tattoo in Revolutionary France

    Victoria N. Meyer

    7. "So Much Magic on Your Flesh": The Ma(r)king of Selves in the TV Series Salem

    Stephanie Weber

    8. The True Life and Adventures of Tattooed Performers: Tattoos, Captivity Narratives, and the Savage in Literature

    Amelia Klem Osterud

    Part III: (De-)Colonization, Revitalization, and Cultural Appropriation

    9. Indigenous (Re)inscription: Transmission of Cultural Knowledge(s) through Tattoos as Resistance

    Pauline Alvarez

    10. The Custom of Marking the Body among the Santals of India

    Ata Mallick

    11. Sacred Skin: Tattooing, Memory, and Identity among the Naga of India

    Lars Krutak

    12. Chinese Characters on Foreign Bodies: Chinese Character Tattoos and Cultural Appropriation

    Guy Almog

    13. Skinscape Souvenirs and Globalized Bodies: Tattoo Tourism and Language in East Africa

    Nico Nassenstein and Maren Rüsch

    Part IV: Tattoo as Embodied Art

    14. Shame Laid Bare: Damien Hirst’s Tattoo Work butterfly, divided

    Ole Wittmann

    15. Incompatible Inking Ideologies in the Ancient Greek World

    Owen Rees

    16. Negotiating a Personal Experience: Identity Affirmation of the Horimono Artist

    Hannah M. Y. Ho


    Sinah Theres Kloß is a research associate at the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies, University of Cologne, Germany.