Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Derek Alderman, Nikki Luke

Committee Members

Solange Munoz


This paper seeks to study the interdependence of scars and memory to the newly emergent field of bodily cartography, specifically investigating the dynamic between scars and the spatially situated memories they preserve, produce, and commemorate within and through the body. In this thesis, I argue that scars are a form of bodily cartography which map, mark, inscribe, and pinpoint the experiences of our spatial movements through time, location, and emotion. The project’s urgency lies in recognizing and validating the body as a cartographic space; it addresses the normalizing effects of the (re)articulation and (re)production of memory through the body. Whether from accident, medical necessity, conflict, or self-infliction, scars link us to space and place-based memories. They are commemorations, not of tangibility, but of an emotional endurance, a memory inscribed in flesh. Scars bind our physical being with the spaces and places we have inhabited and retain them even after they have gone or have been radically transformed over the years. Scars are renderings of history, an incontestable marker. These renderings act as a form of cartographic evidence, a mapping of our own encounters through place and time. While in most cases scars are kept hidden purposefully or are naturally concealed, the images and storytelling exposed through visible scarring become a visual form of history and specific forms of brutality, trauma, resistance, and celebration.

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