As an anthropology graduate student at the University of California-
Davis in the early 199os, I had no idea what (or, more accurately,
to study for my field research. Unlike most of my graduate
student peers, I was not eager to travel across the world to live with
people whose culture is radically different from mine, who eat dif-
ferent foods (I'm a vegetarian), and who probably would resent my
presence. Besides, due to my work with an animal rescue group, I
had a house full of animals to care for and was not in any position
to do any long-term travel. It ultimately took one of my professors
at the time, Smadar Lavie, to suggest that I study a topic that was
literally under my nose-tattooing. At the time, even though I was
tattooed myself, married to a tattooist, and spent quite a bit of time
with tattooed people, I had never thought about tattooing as a re-
search topic, so I am very grateful to Smadar for setting this project
in motion.
I offer my deepest thanks as well to Aram Yengoyan, Suad Joseph,
Carol Smith, Jay Mechling, and Ruth Frankenberg. They were with
me from my exams through the writing of my dissertation, and
provided invaluable support. Aram Yengoyan offered emotional,
psychological, and academic assistance from start to finish, and
his work on culture and ideology has influenced this manuscript a
great deal. Suad Joseph and Carol Smith both spent a tremendous
amount of time helping me refine my research questions. In par-
ticular, Carol challenged me to sharpen my focus on class, and Suad
provided valuable criticism on early drafts of the dissertation. Jay
Mechling exposed me to work being done outside of anthropology
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