Where Are They Now? Anni Irish '12GS

July 16, 2015

Anni Irish

Anni's research focuses on the social history of tattooed women in America! We asked her a few questions.

What did you study at Simmons?

I graduated from Simmons with an MA in Gender and Cultural Studies.

What type of work do you do?

My background is in fine arts and gender studies. My research primarily focuses on the social history of the tattooed lady in America with an emphasis on popular culture, gender and queer theory. I am interested in applying theoretical frameworks to history in an effort to better examine underlying issues like the body, corporality and performance while also trying to put emphasis on stories that have remained untold through a larger sociohistorical paradigm.

What's your favorite part of your work?

My favorite aspect of my own research and writing practice is how multidisciplinary it is. My main research project and the side projects I have going on can be applied to a variety of contexts and l think that is a major strength. This also speaks to a larger shift within academia and the need to stay relevant and engaged with work on different levels.

What made you become interested in tattooing and tattooed women?

I first became interested in body modification culture as a teenager. I got my nose pierced at 16 and got my first tattoo at 18. When I began studying performance art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston my interest in tattooing really began to emerge in another context; this came about through becoming more tattooed and thinking about my own body in different social spaces— in restaurants, public transportation and at home. The questions and looks I would get from total strangers led me to question what the effects of tattoos on my body were and to think about the larger history of tattoos in general. This became the basis of the larger questions I would form in graduate school.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I have a lot of places on my list to travel to but recently Morocco and Japan have been more and more on my mind. Japanese culture has always fascinated me and they have a rich tattoo tradition that I would like to study first hand. Morocco interests me in a similar way given its history, location and politics.

What's your favorite class you took at Simmons? Why?

Gender, Race and Imperialism. It was my first semester at Simmons. It was taught by Laura Prieto and really made me appreciate, enjoy and realize what graduate school is all about.

If you could come back and take one class at Simmons, what would it be and why?

I think I would want to retake the core seminar in Gender and Cultural Studies as a way to refresh my memory and get another crash course in the current issues.

Do you have a favorite quote?

This quote I recently came across by Bell Hooks on feminist politics really hits home for me on a lot of levels:

As all advocates of feminist politics know most people do not understand sexism or if they do they think it is not a problem. Masses of people think that feminism is always and only about women seeking to be equal to men. And a huge majority of these folks think feminism is anti-male. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media.

What's your Simmons moment?

My Simmons Moment came while working on my thesis. I got the chance to research in a variety of ways -- from archives to museum collections to libraries -- and I worked closely with my advisor which allowed me to see the way in which academic papers come together and what that process was like. I really appreciated the one-on-one attention I got during the process of writing. Going through my paper with suggestions and comments from my advisor made it the best project I could produce at that time.