Examining Tattooing as a Form of Identity Expression and Interaction Process – Atatürk Tattooing Case

Burcu Gumus, PhD, Assistant Professor
Communication Science Department at Art and Science Faculty
Doğuş University, Turkey
e-mail: burcugumus@dogus.edu.tr, burgumus@gmail.com


Today, tattoos are used as a medium for reflecting individual opinions and ideas. Tattooing is perceived as a practice that differentiates individuals and demonstrates an identity or group affiliation. The main aim of this study is to understand the practice of tattooing Atatürk symbolisms in modern Turkey. The practice demonstrates and communicates the important ideology of Kemalism. Atatürk tattoos (signatures, portraits etc.) are a legitimate way of social and political identity expression. In other words, a symbolic reflection of the Kemalist or secular identity.
To better understand the relationship between meaning and interaction as it relates to Atatürk tattoos, twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with people in Istanbul. The focus of the study is to examine what impact having an Atatürk tattoo has on the individuals’ experiences. Therefore, the main questions are focused on the process of acquiring, owning, and exhibiting of an Atatürk tattoo in a social milieu. The majority of interviewees were influenced about getting an Atatürk tattoo until it was brought to their attention by people close to them, or societies they are part of. Even though interviewees have stated that they do not care about other peopleís opinions, they especially have a tendency to conceal their tattoo in their business life and this practice indicates that the Atatürk tattoo bearer may be considered to possess a potentially discrediting or stigmatizing attribute.

Keywords: tattoo, Atatürk, identity expression, body politics, interaction process


How to cite:
Gumus, B. (2019). “Examining Tattooing as a Form of Identity Expression and Interaction Process – Atatürk Tattooing Case.” Journal of Comparative Studies 12 (41), 94–120.