‘when did our bodies stop belonging to us?’ is an archival project that explores the history of and present-day attitudes towards tattooing in Nigeria and the Nigerian diaspora. It tethers the erasure of cultural forms of tattooing to colonialism, police brutality, and the policing of self-expression in Nigeria and within the Nigerian Diaspora. It exposes how colonization continues to govern our bodies, our personhoods, and our relationships to each other. To delve into how Nigerians navigate institutions such as police, family, and work that often target and condemn people with tattoos, I interviewed tattooed Nigerians across the world about their tattoos and institutional reactions to their tattoos while conducting research on cultural forms of tattooing in Nigeria. ‘when did our bodies stop belonging to us?’ invites Nigerians to preserve our Indigenous art forms, histories, and our right to self-expression. The project is available here.

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