Understanding Tattoos from the Indonesian Underground Music Scene of the Surabaya Region

HANDOKO, Cons. Tri (2019). Understanding Tattoos from the Indonesian Underground Music Scene of the Surabaya Region. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00304


This study analyses the functions and meanings of tattoos in the specific social and cultural context of the underground musicians and fans in urban East Java. The research methodology is based on qualitative data and uses ethnographic and social science methods. The ethnographic component comes from participation in music events, gatherings and visits to the target community in their homes and public places. The focus is on the analysis of the visual data in their particular contexts and draws from detailed knowledge of literature pertaining to existing international research about tattoos from a variety of perspectives. In particular, the individual explanatory narratives are considered to account for the icons, symbols and typography patterns, to understand the broader vocabularies of tattoos that are followed in the subculture of underground music in Indonesia. This research revealed that tattoos and tattooing practices among Java-based underground music subcultures were mostly still based on mutual co-operation, as shown by how some of the underground musicians and fans became the volunteer media of tattooing practices for their fellow tattoo apprentices. This kind of activity seems to strengthen their social interactions. From an analogical perspective, we can see the body as the site where they create those relationships. I call this phenomenon the social body event, a celebration of togetherness and unity, flowing dynamically in the form of the production of tattoos. Other findings were that tattoos also became a projection of their spiritual journeys, personal identity, as well as the group identity, in cases where there was a shift in the meaning of tattoos over time. The local preferences of tattoos and the tattooing process also involve local spiritual conceptions, such as the tattoo positioning on the body representing good or evil. Also, some subjects acquired tattoos after experiencing dreams. This phenomenon shows that some youngsters still believe that dreams can convey a supernatural message or a sign of a particular event in their life. Tattoo and tattooing practices in the underground music scene reflect the vigorous bond between inside and outside the self, the music scene, and the wider range of society. It is also clear how global tattoos can influence, in terms of tattoo styles and motifs. This research adds to the existing body of research and knowledge of both subcultures and body art in the Indonesian context.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Green, Geoff
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr Geoff Green
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00304
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2020 13:45
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 14:00
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/27222

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