January 7, 2017 · 5:23 PM
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At this point, some of it is based on outdated research, but I still stand by 98% of this.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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
Filed under Ethnographic, Myth Debunking, Research, Sailors/Maritime, Travel, Uncategorized
Tagged as Amerindians, Captain Cook, Captain James Cook, cook, expatriates, First Peoples, history, history of tattooing, history of tattoos, indigenous peoples, james cook, myth, Myth Debunking, Native Americans, polynesia, tatauierung, tatouage, tattoo, tattoo history, tattoo myths, tattooing, tattoos, tatuaggi, travel
April 21, 2014 · 12:30 AM
On Saturday I presented a paper at the 2014 Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association annual conference (on what ended up being quite a solid panel with my fellow tattoo-scholar friends Amelia Klem Osterud and Nick Schonberger and a sociologist Derek Roberts who we hadn’t met before but who is doing some interesting work).
It’s not the kind of paper that I would ever publish in a journal, but I thought I’d archive a slightly revised version of it here. I think I offer a useful critique of some of the recent editorial media pieces about tattooing as well as some helpful guidelines at the end for anyone authoring tattoo writing. I also didn’t get to present the entire paper because, well, perhaps I tend to ramble on a bit…so this is a way to get it all out there. In the process of doing research for this paper, I mined a significant amount of my personal history with tattooing, and that caused me to dredge up some amusing photos that documented my early years as a collector (and scholar).
Me getting my first sleeve finished in 1993. The artist is my art-school friend Forrest Curl (working at River City Tattoo in Austin, TX…a long way from Providence, RI, where he had started tattooing me). A couple days later he started the other sleeve and finished it within a few months in my apartment in Chicago.
So here’s the paper: Continue reading →
April 5, 2014 · 11:59 AM
Tracking the origins of tattoo-history myths is a favorite pastime of mine. So many abound and continually get perpetuated.
A recent thread on my personal Facebook page (posted to public so you can read it here) had a number of excellent scholars weigh in on the oft-cited (but never properly documented) assertion that “the church” or “the pope” banned tattooing (sometimes discussed as all tattooing and sometimes discussed as “pagan” tattooing) in the 8th century with a date of 787 and Pope Hadrian commonly cited. I promise a more detailed post about this soon, but a follow up to that thread today reminded me that I have some ready-to-go unpublished material from my dissertation, Tattooed Transculturites: Western Expatriates Among Amerindian and Pacific Islander Societies, 1500-1900 (University of Chicago, 2012), about what I call the “Cook Myth”–that modern Western tattooing has its roots in Captain James Cook and company’s visits to Polynesia in the late 18th century.
Sydney Parkinson’s classic illustration of a tattooed Maori from Cook’s first voyage
Polynesian roots for modern Western tattooing are patently untrue, and I spent some time tracing the origins of the myth in mid-20th-century secondary sources (mostly glossy popular publications that were then used as sketchy sources by certain late-20th-century academics).
So here you go…the Cook myth exposed, from my dissertation: Continue reading →
Filed under Myth Debunking, Popular Culture, Sailors/Maritime
Tagged as cook, history, history of tattooing, history of tattoos, james cook, myth, polynesia, tattoo, tattoo history, tattooing, tattoos