Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2008

Document Type

Restricted Paper

Terms of Use

© 2008 Fletcher Coleman. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Over the course of the summer of 2007, I had the opportunity to investigate the effects of globalization on the lives and artwork of Chinese contemporary artists living in Beijing. During the course of my research, I happened upon a tattoo parlor in the 798 art district, one of the most well-known contemporary art districts in all of China. The tattoo artist, Leng Yan, proved to be most willing to answer my questions regarding his own business. In addition, he raised a number of further points regarding the manner in which tattoo is treated by other contemporary artists and the Chinese society as a whole. His thoughts left me pondering the subject throughout the following months. As a result, I began my own informal independent investigation on the manner in which Chinese tattoo artists and the general Chinese public view tattooing, along with possible underlying reasons for many of the commonly held beliefs. After a series of interviews with tattoo artists and various members of the general Chinese public over a period of about three months, I came to the conclusion that, despite deeply rooted historical biases against tattooing, Chinese tattoo is gradually becoming more accepted and has a very bright future within Chinese society.


Honorable mention for the Alice L. Crossley Prize in Asian Studies in 2008