Monday, November 11, 2013

'Are Tattoos, Piercings and other Body Modifications Natural?' - MA/MSc Candidate Daniel Dick speaks at Got anthropology U of T

On October 23, Daniel Dick (Ma MSc Candidate) gave an exciting presentation for the first Got Anthropology? event at U of T. Got Anthropology? is a speaker series with the goal of bringing anthropological research to the greater community here at U of T.  They will select speakers representing different facets of anthropology to give talks on the 2nd last Wednesday of select months from October to April, making anthropology more accessible!

The subject of Daniel's talk was the many body modifications found in human society, both today and in the archaeological record. His presentation was structured around several key questions: Are body modifications natural? How diverse are they? What are body modifications? How old are they? Where do they come from? and finally, what do they mean?

Throughout the course of the evening Daniel discussed piercings, tattoos, scarification, sub dermal implants, and extreme cases of body modification. Personally, I was enthralled. Beyond having simple ear lobe piercings, I have never considered alternate forms of body modification. However, I do know friends with elaborate piercings or personal tattoos. Sometimes its fun to fantasize about what kind of tattoo or piercing I would get - where would I put it? What would it be of? What part of my life would it represent? The anthropological significance is even more fascinating - Daniel brought issues of cultural appropriation to the forefront of his discussion, questioning whether or not the blending of traditional and religious styles of body modification that have great significance with mainstream culture is acceptable or not.

Pazyryk Ice Maiden
Some Interesting Facts About Body Modification:
  • Bone, stone, glass, ivory, ceramic, and metal can all be used for piercings
  • The oldies piercings date to 2500 BC and were found at the ancient site of Ur, near modern day Iraq
  • Piercings show up in the archaeological record via their placement - if a metal ring lies next to the head of skeletal remains, there is a good chance it represents a pierced ear
  • The modern tattoo pen was invented by Thomas Edison, while he was creating the Electric Pen
  • The most famous example of ancient tattooing comes from the Pazyryck mummies found in Siberia. One of the most famous, the Ice Maiden, has tattoos dating from 2600 years ago.
  • The Irezumi tattoo style is traditionally Japanese, and has become so associated with the Yakuza that many places of business ban customers with tattoos
  • "Hakuna Matata"

  • The tattoo commonly referred to as the symbol for 'Hakuna Matata' from Disney's The Lion King actually doesn't mean hakuna matata - Swahili is written in the Latin alphabet, like English. The symbol comes from the Korean comedy movie, 200 Pounds Beauty

Well - that's all for me today. Check back soon for our next post! I've included a link to the Go anthropology? Facebook page below!
got anthropology?

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