Tattoos can tell personal stories through ink, drawn permanently on skin. They can be graphic representations of beliefs within communities, or can express an individual's defiance against authority. The tattoo's history can be traced back to the fourth millennium BC in Europe and 2000 BC in Egypt, and the current interest in tattoos is evident in many ways: in advertisements, the stereotypical ""outlaw biker"" character in films and television, the availability of temporary tattoos for children and even the production of a tattooed Barbie doll. Tattoos have become a significant statement, a means of interpersonal communication without words, across the globe. This text explores the tattoo as a narrative concept throughout its six chapters. The work highlights the tattoo in a different context, one of resistance and marginality, and draws attention to the important relationship between the visual and the narrative components of tattoo culture. Tattoos and their use, effects and narratives on Holocaust victims, slaves and colonized peoples, gangs and inmates and other societies are discussed, as well as the tattoo narrative in pop culture, from the prison drama ""Oz"" to the Maori films ""Utu"" and ""Once Were Warriors"".
Karin Beeler is the English department chair at the University of Northern British Columbia in Canada. She has published in various areas of film and television studies, including screen culture for children.