Alessio Petrizzo

Criminal Skins? The Lombrosian School and the Tattooed Body in the Late Eighteenth Century

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Tattoos; Criminal Anthropology; Visual Culture.

In the nineteenth century both theories of criminality and institutional identification practices paid great attention to tattoos as a mark of identity and as a potential indicator of social deviance. This article traces the approach of Cesare Lombroso and the Italian school of criminal anthropology on this theme, analyzing especially the role played by the visual in the production of knowledge and in the style of the criminological discourse surrounding the tattoo and its reception. These processes are contextualized in the wider framework of the uses of tattooed bodies by different media and entertainment agencies in Europe - from the periodical press to popular performances - as well as by the tattooed themselves, between primitivism, spectacle, media, popular culture, and early forms of normalization of this practice.

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