This research investigates the practice of tattooing as a material, affective and
superficial technology of shifting subjectivity, that is, in its power of inducing effects of
subjectivity. Moreover, it argues that tattooing can be considered a micropolitical
resource toward the production of experimental, creative and subversive paths of
subjectificationa nd against machineso f homogenisationa nd bodily conformity.
Drawing from Spinoza, Deleuze and Guattari, and from personal accounts of body
modification, I discuss tattooing as a technology of empowerment and mobilization of
subjectivity whose intensity, by way of the dis-organization of the bodily surface it
induces, is capable of instigating lines of escape and liberation and entering into the
production of new subjectivities.
I have developed my argument by following several lines of investigation: the
historical and cultural location of the practice of tattooing; an overview of Spinoza's
philosophy; the production of subjectivity by way of Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari's
thought; and the analysis of the skin as the material site of tattooing and as a contested
trope of identity. Finally, by looking at the distinction between skin shedding machines
and botox machines, I have claimed tattooing as a micropolitical tool of liberation.
Both the skin and subjectivity have been examined in terms of their production. I
have discussed the skin as the site of manoeuvres of dis/organization of corporeal
matter. I argue that its continuous unfolding radically questions the polarization
surface vs. depth and a notion of identity predicated upon the skin seen as a
This research aims at being a contribution to current debates on subjectivity and
embodiment and, as such, it pertains to the wider project of rethinking the bodily
roots of subjectivity. It is concerned, in particular, with how to create, express and
sustain new forms of subjectification that resolutely place embodiment, desire and
becoming at their core.
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