In(k)scribed Identities: A Sociological Analysis of Catholic Croat Tattoos


  • Timea Barabas



tattooing, identity, social identity theory, structuralism, discourse analysis


For centuries, a number of Catholic Croat women from the territory of modern day Bosnia and Herzegovina have participated in a traditional form of tattooing. Rooted in the socio-political context marked by the rule of the Ottoman Empire (16th–19th century), it was believed that the symbols would offer protection against kidnapping by the Turks. While the practice carried on, outliving the context of its creation, it entered into a slow decline; today not more than a handful of people still bear these markings. Using interviews collected by Ilinčić (2016) as secondary data, I apply Foucauldian discourse analysis to follow the construction of meaning associated to tattoos along the interpersonal-intergroup continuum. Drawing upon structuralism and feminist theories about the body and social identity theory, I focus on how tattooing is used as a communicative signifier of social and or self-identity.


Article received: December 10, 2018; Article accepted: January 23, 2019; Published online: April 15, 2019; Original scholarly paper

How to cite this article: Barabas, Timea. "In(k)scribed Identities: A Sociological Analysis of Catholic Croat Tattoos." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 18 (2019): 33–50. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i18.297


Author Biography

Timea Barabas

University of Bucharest, Bucharest

Timea Barabas is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology, at the University of Bucharest. Her thesis takes on the body as a medium in a total institution, focusing on tattooed women from prison in Romania. This comes as an extension of her ongoing academic interest on the human condition under oppressive regimes. For her Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology in National Security she presented a Dissertation paper entitled “The Psychological Profile of a Torturer – Eugen Țurcanu,” which analyzed the motivational drive of the main torturer in the infamous Pitești Experiment conducted during the communist regime. She explored the human condition and its numerous incarnations during times of oppression on various other occasions and continues to do so.


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How to Cite

Barabas, T. (2023). In(k)scribed Identities: A Sociological Analysis of Catholic Croat Tattoos. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (18), 33–50.