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Illustrated America : freedom of expression and the democratization of tattoos in contemporary American culture

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Item Summary

Title: Illustrated America : freedom of expression and the democratization of tattoos in contemporary American culture
Authors: Kang, Sung Pil
Keywords: skin art
Issue Date: Aug 2014
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2014]
Abstract: This dissertation examines the evolving democratization of tattooing and the shifting significance of tattoos in an analysis from the 1950s to the current era. Unlike previous scholarship, this study also links the democratization of tattoos to the continuous struggle over the body against state institutions--not just limiting it to the 1960s counter-culture. Often absent in other studies concerning the popularization and eventual commodification of tattoos is the "hip-hop element"; I argue that marking the skin was a logical extension of drawing attention to an "invisible generation" experiencing economic neglect and the impact from the "War on Drugs," "War on Gangs," and "War on Youths" in the 1980s. Rapper Tupac Shakur contributed to the growth and contraction of marking the body, and this is symptomatic of the discursive dialectic between the tolerance for and the backlash against civil rights in recent America history. The context of my investigation is specifically American, as I argue that decades of tattooing practices have rendered tattoos peculiarly evocative signifiers of diverse American identities. After the 1950s, marking the skin became part of the discourse over civil liberties regarding the body. My study centers on women, gays and lesbians, blacks, the military, and entertainers or professional athletes. Individuals within these groups have been among the most ardent practitioners of tattooing and among the most visible recipients of tattoos; not coincidentally, these groups have also been among the most marginalized or celebrated of Americans, often voluntarily distancing themselves from the larger American society through their commercialized tattoos and their defiantly political uses of their bodies. The primary thrust of this discussion is to identify how various groups have used tattooing to assert their self-determination or civic identities publicly, and to define themselves by writing on their bodies.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - History
Ph.D. - History

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