Category Archives: Research

Tattoo History and Digital Humanities

I’ve been more than a bit absent from actively publishing tattoo-history related research and news on both this website and its companion social media accounts. If you’re curious as to why, I decided to go back to school for a *very intensive* program in data science (like I-can-barely-find-time-to-shower intensive, if that’s any indication of the rigor of this program I’m in). But as with most school-based research projects over the years, I’m focusing my capstone project on something tattoo-related.

The concept of digital humanities has long been a favorite of mine to read about and weigh possibilities, but I didn’t have the tech skills in coding and modeling to do that kind of work. Well…now I do! I’ll offer one small glimpse at what I have on tap for the future. Here’s a quick screencap from some code I wrote that tallies the top word counts of title words in all tattoo books (and marginally tattoo-related books) published between 1850 and today. Looking forward to sharing some really interesting, if visually unexciting, research soon!

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Tattooed Transculturites–Read My PhD Tattoo-History Dissertation Online

My dear fans and followers, a gift from me to you for the new year: I’ve put my PhD dissertation, Tattooed Transculturites: Western Expatriates Among Amerindian and Pacific Islander Societies, 1500-1900, available online for viewing.

At this point, some of it is based on outdated research, but I still stand by 98% of this. I hope to get a popular-reader-friendly version of this published some day, but in the meantime, those of you who would like to geek out on academic jargon and some in-depth archival research can enjoy! Prepare for a looooooong read–it’s a 513 page document.

As you know, one of my big missions with tattoo history is to debunk myths that have arisen from assumptions, bad scholarship, and storytelling. I am always saddened when I continue to read about the Cook myth when, as this dissertation’s first half demonstrates, there is ample evidence for European tattooing (including being tattooed by non-European indigenous peoples) prior to the late 18th century. Since I wrote this, I’ve discovered several more important examples to add into the roster of tattooed transculturites, so a published version of this text will be even richer when that happens.

Feel free to reach out to me at tattoohistorian@gmail.com with any corrections or additional information that I might want to incorporate upon a revision for book publication.

And note the cover-page authorship is under my old married last name…ah History, a testament to how you preserve the good along with the bad!

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Filed under Ethnographic, Myth Debunking, Research, Sailors/Maritime, Travel, Uncategorized