Skip navigation

York professor wants to create database of tattoos

Specifically highlighting tattoos that honour deceased loved ones or past events.


A York University sociology professor wants to build what she calls the world’s first comprehensive public archive of memorial tattoos – tattoos that honour a deceased loved one or commemorate a past event or life transition. The professor, Deborah Davidson, says memorial tattoos “both embody memory and serve as a kind of translator of memory into a language readable by others.” The project is being funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The goal is to collect 500 images and their “contextualizing narratives” to start. But Dr. Davidson says this would be just the first phase of a larger, cross-disciplinary international collaboration of scholars at York, the University of Toronto, the University of Bath and Plymouth University in the U.K., and Monash University in Australia.

The archive will be not just an academic tool, says Dr. Davidson, but also will serve as a place to foster new relationships between academics and individuals with memorial tattoos, along with tattoo artists and community groups. As well, users will have the option to become a part of the project by uploading their own images and stories.

Post a comment
University Affairs moderates all comments according to the following guidelines. If approved, comments generally appear within one business day. We may republish particularly insightful remarks in our print edition or elsewhere.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Mike Giovinazzo / January 19, 2014 at 02:08

    You may be interested in my project see my link above as well as this intro

    I’d also like to see what your project has turned up so far

  2. Hans Wolf / October 7, 2016 at 03:21

    We are very interested in your project. Can you send us some detailled informations and are you interested in any form of co-working with our company at berlin-haselhorst?

    Best regards Hans wolf

Click to fill out a quick survey