Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community

Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community

# Author: Margo DeMello
# Paperback: 256 pages
# Publisher: Duke University Press Books; 1st edition (2000)
# Language: English

From Library Journal:

DeMello (formerly with Univ. of California, Davis) presents an anthropological study of tattooing and tattoo communities in North America. Both a researcher and a "tattooed person" who is married to a tattooist--both "insider and outsider," that is--she describes the rigid hierarchies within tattoo communities (how tattooists jealously guard secrets from outsiders and newcomers) and engages in a broader analysis of tattoos as socioeconomic indicators. She looks at the meaning of tattoos among bikers, Chicano gangs, middle-class baby boomers, and Generation X. Modern, elite tattooists, she argues, downplay tattooing's lower-class roots in favor of new "middle-class consumption." And whereas baby boomers' traditional tattoo designs--which most now want to hide--featured lifestyle, patriotism, love, and memorable events, Generation X youth proudly display more "exotic" and "primitive" designs. An interesting, authentic account of tattoo communities; recommended for all libraries.
-Chogollah Maroufi, California State Univ., Los Angeles
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Although academic, this book has much to recommend it for general collections. The tattoo community of which DeMello writes--and in which she participates--is demographically quite different from the old. It is more female, more middle-class, and more educated, whereas the earlier society of tattoo collectors was primarily working class and male. DeMello lays out some of the social history of tattooing to prepare for her discussion of the changes in tattooing in the past 20 years. From handpicked prison tattoos to the latest in today's "tribal" design, from gang symbols to feminist ones, tattoos themselves have changed to meet changing consumer demand. Some of the tensions among social groups for whom tattoos have dramatically different meanings are documented, but DeMello's major interest is in describing the new community of tattooed people, both men and women, for whom new meanings are being forged from the meeting of skin and ink. Patricia Monaghan.
Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community