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Embodying identity through tattooing: Autoethnography and the “bodyscape”


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Fans of Heavy Metal music have a unique style of appearance and interaction through which a sub-cultural community is formed and maintained. This presentation describes aspects of Dave’s autoethnographic doctoral thesis in relation to the embodied nature of tattooing and the display of cultural symbols associated with the shared identity of Metaller. Drawing upon Dave’s interactions with one of his heavily tattooed participants, referred to affectionately in this research as “Chopper”, he will discuss the ways in which tattoos and associated descriptions can render into view community assumptions, practices, and relationships.
Chopper’s tattoos are colourful and embodied statements of membership and community. By focusing on the dialectics of tattoos and their metonymic relationship with a Heavy Metal
community, we explore how this participant’s sense of self as a member has been imprinted upon his flesh. The concepts of metonym and bodyscape are employed as a means of exploring and theorising the construction, expression, and performance of identity and community at sub-cultural events such as local gigs. Such events provide opportunities for bodyscapes to be enacted through social interactions. Our analysis moves beyond the description of specific representations to broader observations about the ways in which social relationships and community are rendered meaningful through mediated and interpersonal communication featuring these tattoos.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: auto-ethnography, tattoos, heavy metal, metonym, bodyscape, social interactions
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Corporate > Research Office
Depositing User: Dave Snell
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2012 21:26
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 03:02

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