Talk by MENA Prison Forum & UMAM D&R
Tattooing and Identity in Tunisian Prisons
A conversation with Karim Abdessalem and Mohamed Kamal Elhouki
July 21, 2022 @ Via Zoom

The MENA Prison Forum is pleased to host the second talk with former detainee, human rights activist, and researcher Karim Abdessalem, and former detainee and scholar Dr. Mohamed Kamal Elhouki. After speaking with the MPF about the Al-Zindali music genre on July 7, 2022 this second session will investigate the political and social significance of tattoos in the Tunisian prison system. At the gate of every prison, prisoners lose all their belongings, their identification cards, and any items that can reflect their identity. In the eyes of the jailers, they become just numbers, stripped of their names. However, the speakers will highlight how prisoners can refuse this loss of identity through tattoos; the talk will highlight how these acts of corporal modification take the form of self-identification, psychological signifiers, and even biographies and personal narratives. From forced and compulsive tattoos for stigmatization and torture to voluntary tattoos as part of constructing an identity, a sense of belonging, and perhaps pride, the talk will move past the aesthetic, artistic, and adornment phenomenon of inked bodies, and will instead delve into the charged meanings and connotations of tattoos in Tunisian prisons.

Time: Thursday, July 21, 2022 at 8 pm Beirut time, 6 pm Tunisia time, 7 pm CET, 1 pm EST. 

Language: The discussion will be in Arabic with English Translation. 

The subsequent Q&A session will be both in Arabic and English.

Deadline for registration: Wednesday, July 20, 2022 by 11:59 Beirut time.

Karim Abdessalem is a former political detainee and a researcher in the post-conflict movement of victims. He is also a human rights activist in the field of transitional justice, memory, and mechanisms of immortalization. 

Dr. Mohamed Kamal Elhouki is a former political detainee and has a PhD specialized in religious and advocacy texts. He is also a researcher and an activist in the human rights field.