Tattoos are one of the 'distinguishing marks' specified in police descriptions, and long recorded on British passports. They have also often been seen as a form of writing on the body that conveys deeper messages about the bearer's identity, especially for criminals.
This lecture will discuss the original debates about the tattoo as a sign of criminal identity among 19th century European police and criminal anthropologists. It will conclude the series with some final reflections on the subjective and objective dimensions of identity and identification covered by these lectures.
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website: http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/speaking-scars-the-tattoo
Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently over 1,500 lectures free to access or download from the website.
Professor Jane Caplan
Professor Jane Caplan is Visiting Professor at Birkbeck, University of London, and Emeritus Fellow at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford. She is a world-renowned historian specialising in Nazi Germany and the history of the documentation of individual identity.