Tattoo: The Histories and Aesthetics of Embodied Imaging and Writing


Ort: Bibliothek des Internationalen Kollegs Morphomata, Weyertal 59 (Rückgebäude, 3. Etage), 50937 Köln

Kontakt: Sinah Kloß

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Tattoos and tattooed bodies seem to be omnipresent among a variety of social groups and actors today. Although in public discourse the popularity of tattoos is commonly discussed as ‘growing’ or as a ‘novel’ phenomenon, tattoo practices indeed have long and diverse histories around the globe. As tattoo narratives and analyses are often narrowly focused on stigmatization and marginalization processes, this international conference seeks to go beyond this discourse. It addresses, for example, visual and material aspects of the (un)making of tattoo or the relevance of tattoo(ing) in the construction of socio-cultural bodies, lives and histories, both among individuals and groups, in the past and at present. Questions will be raised such as: How do tattoo images and practices facilitate representations of self and other? How do they performatively (re)create biographies and histories? What do tattoo aesthetics and practices reveal about the often separately used categorizations of life-writing and life-imaging? The interdisciplinary conference, which brings scholars of history, social anthropology, sociology, archaeology, literary studies, cultural studies and art history into dialogue, is going to take place on December 1 and 2, 2017 at the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies, University of Cologne. 

For further information see also the interview with Sinah Kloß in the "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger".

FRIDAY, DEC 1          

9.00 – 10.30   Keynote

Welcome (Dietrich Boschung, Sinah Kloß)

Keynote: Matt Lodder (University of Essex, UK): “A Toyshop Tattoo: On the Missing Primary Sources in Tattoo History Scholarship”

10.30 – 11.00 Coffee Break

11.00 – 12.30 Panel 1

  • Martin Dinter & Astrid Khoo (King’s College London, UK): “If Skin Were Parchment...': Tattoos in Antiquity”
  • Victoria Meyer (University of Arizona, USA): “Marking France’s Enemies: Masculinity, Sexuality, and the Tattoo in Revolutionary France” (cancelled)
  • Gemma Angel (University College London, UK): “The Tattooed Dreyfus Affair: Performing French Masculinity & Nationhood”    


12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30 – 15.00 Panel 2

  • Katrina Keefer (Trent University, Canada): “Inscribed Skin and Obscured Identities: Using Scarification and Tattoo to Uncover Origins in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade”
  • Pauline Alvarez (UCLA, USA): “Indigenous Ink: A Visual Intergenerational Transfer of Indigenous Knowledge(s)”
  • Ata Mallick (Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Satabarshiki Mahavidyalaya, India): “The Custom of Branding the Body Among the Santal Tribe of India”


15.00 – 15.15 Coffee Break           

15.15 – 16.45 Panel 3

  • Alessandra Castellani (Istituto Superiore Industrie Artistiche, Italy): “Identity, Gender Roles and Tattooing among Italian Lesbian Women”
  • Beverly Thompson (Siena College, USA): “Mi Familia: Latina Women in the U.S. Negotiate Identity and Social Sanctions through Tattooing”
  • Lars Krutak: (Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, USA): “Sacred Signs: Tattooing, Memory, and Identity Among the Naga of India”  

16.45 – 17.00 Coffee Break           

17.00 – 18.30 Panel 4

  • Stephanie Weber (University of Vienna, Austria): “So much magic on your flesh.’ The Ma(r)king of Selves in the TV Series Salem
  • David Holloway (University of Rochester, USA): “The Cultural Politics of Tattoos in Japan: Nation, Body, and Transformation”
  • Richard King: (Washington State University, USA): “The Politics of Erasure: Tattoo Removal, Racism, and Redemption”


9.30 – 11.00  Panel 5

  • Jennifer Daubenberger (University of Karlsruhe, Germany): “The Power of Visualization: The Point of View and Its Importance in Tattoo Reception”
  • Sébastien Galliot (Centre for Research and Documentation on Oceania, France): “Beyond Narrative: Toward a Pragmatic Approach to Tattoo Practices”
  • Kevin Breß & Lydia Hauth (Grassi Museum Leipzig, Germany): “Towards a Living Archive: Tattoos in the context of ethnographic museum practice”


11.00 – 11.30 Coffee Break

11.30 – 12.30  Panel 6

  • Guy Almog (University of Haifa, Israel): “Chinese Characters on Foreign Bodies: Between Cliché and Chic, Mundanity and Mystery”
  • Nico Nassenstein & Maren Rüsch (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz & University of Cologne, Germany): “Skinscape Souvenirs and ‚Globalized Bodies’: Tattoo Tourism and Body Art as Travel Narratives”

Closing Remarks (End 13.00)

Book Signing and Pre-Release of the edited volume ‚Ancient Ink: The Archaeology of Tattooing’ with Lars Krutak

(Lars Krutak, Aaron Deter-Wolf (2018): Ancient Ink: The Archaeology of Tattooing. University of Washington Press)

The event ist public, guests are welcome.