John Miller, “The Philosophy of Tattoos” (British Library, 2021)

The Philosophy of Tattoos (British Library, 2021) by Dr. John Miller presents an impressively broad yet personal account, exploring tattooing as a unique expression of individual, cultural and national identity.

Dr. Miller explores tattooing as an innate human impulse throughout history, following its suppression and revival in cultures around the world. A bold and nuanced story of colonial oppression, social deviance and tattooing in the age of social media, the book features original tattoo designs from London-based tattoo artist Luca Ortis, as well as illustrations from the British library collections.

The Philosophy of Tattoos returns to its origins in cultural locations as disparate as Polynesia, the Amazon and the Arctic to interrogate the innate human desire to mark the skin. It asks what the history of tattooing might tell us about that fundamental question: what does it mean to be human?

This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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