Occupy your Body: Activating 21st-Century Tattoo Culture

  • Karen J. Leader
Keywords: art, body, bodying, culture, embodiment, humanities, occupy, tattoo, tattoos


To consider body modification, in this case tattooing, in the 21st century, opens new paths of inquiry about body and identity. In the context of Stories on the Skin: Tattoo Culture at FAU, a long-term, multi-disciplinary creative and research collaboration, this paper will consider several questions about its scholarly import. First, the phenomenon of the widespread, mainstream popularity of tattoo is occurring at the precise moment when our lives are becoming more virtual. What is the significance of this profoundly bodily performance of self in a world where bodies are being left behind for avatars? If tattooing offers a positive value to individual subjectivity, can this significant embodiment of self offer an ethical model for that affirms our lived experience, on an increasingly endangered planet? Analyses from art history, sociology, anthropology, and pragmatist philosophy offer tattoo culture as a touchstone for 21st-century body politics.