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The Body as (Another) Place: Producing Embodied Heterotopias Through Tattooing

Dominique Roux, Russell Belk, Vicki G MorwitzEditor, Margaret C CampbellEditor and Güliz GerAssociate Editor

Journal of Consumer Research, 2019, vol. 46, issue 3, 483-507

Abstract: While previous research has mobilized sociological and psychological readings of the body, this study considers it ontologically as the ultimate place we must live in, with no escape possible. A phenomenological framework and a four-year, multimethod, qualitative study of tattoo recipients and tattooists substantiates the conceptualization of the body as a threefold articulation: an inescapable place (topia), the source of utopias arising from fleeting trajectories between here and elsewhere, and the “embodied heterotopia” that it becomes when people rework their bodies as a better place to inhabit. We show how tattooed bodies are spatially conceived as a topia through their topographies, territories, landscapes, and limits. We then highlight how this creates a dynamic interplay between past, present, and future, resulting in utopian dreams of beautification, escape, conjuration, and immutability. Finally, we show how tattooees produce embodied heterotopias, namely other places that both mirror and compensate for their ontological entrapment. In considering the body as a place, our framework enriches phenomenological and existential approaches to self-transformation in contemporary consumption.

Keywords: body; place; utopia; heterotopia; tattooing; time (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:oup:jconrs:v:46:y:2019:i:3:p:483-507.