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Bodies of Inscription

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An ethnography of the tattoo community, tracing the practice's transformation from a mostly male, working-class phenomenon to one adapted and propagated by a more middle-class movement in the period from the 1970s to now

Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments 1. Finding Community Shops, Conventions, Magazines, and Cyberspace 2. Cultural Roots The History of Tattooing in the West 3. Appropriation and Transformation The Origins of the Renaissance 4. Discourse and Differentiation Media Representation and Tattoo Organizations 5. The Creation of Meaning I The New Text 6. The Creation of Meaning II The Tattoo Narratives Conclusion: The Future of a Movement Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Margo DeMello is a nonprofit fundraiser. She has taught at San Francisco State University, Sacramento City College, and the University of California, Davis.


"A respectful look at an aspect of pop culture not normally treated in such un-sensational terms." Kirkus Review "Although academic, this book has much to recommend it for general collections ... 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." Booklist "DeMello 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, she describes the rigid hierarchies within tattoo communities and engages in a broader analysis of tattoos as socio-economic indicators... An interesting, authentic account of tattoo communities." Library Journal "A fascinating book bursting with penetrating description. DeMello makes a very useful contribution to the literature on these increasingly salient voluntary communities of passion, interest, and identity." Gayle Rubin "The histories of tattoo traditions presented in this book are fascinating and rich. DeMello has many insights into tattoos' complexity of meaning, brought out in precise ethnographic and historical fashion."--Kathleen Stewart, author of A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an "Other" America

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