EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W099)

Crisis of representation: Irish Travellers and Roma

Location Humanities Small Seminar Room 2
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenor

Attracta Brownlee (National University of Ireland Maynooth) email
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Long Abstract

Irish Travellers are a nomadic minority group with a shared history and culture. They share many historical and cultural features with European Roma. In recent years many Roma have migrated to Ireland to escape persecution in their former homelands. Both Irish Travellers and Roma have suffered exclusion and discrimination and traditional discourses have centred on issues such as poverty, poor health, educational disadvantage, violence, migration and marginalisation. Yet Irish Travellers and Roma have maintained their cultural traditions as minorities within nation states in the face of intolerance. Irish Traveller and Roma community activists have challenged prevailing notions of their communities as beset by social problems and have laboured internally and externally to develop strategies to overcome social disadvantage and discrimination. In the past, Irish Travellers and Roma have rarely had any input into how their communities have been represented. This workshop seeks to explore the vibrancy of Traveller and Roma cultures. The workshop aims to give voice to those minorities and to recognise their internal strategies for defending their cultural traditions, while at the same time acknowledging Traveller and Roma dynamism in overcoming social disadvantage. We especially invite Traveller and Roma researchers and community members to participate in the workshop.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Roma/Gypsy tradition: a sociocultural capital or a burden?

Author: Ewa Nowicka (Collegium Civitas)  email
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Long Abstract

It is usually stated that Roma/Gypsy tradition culture is a serious burden for the group in contemporary political, economic, and social world. This paper is based on a long field research among Roma/Gypsy communities in Poland and in other Central European countries. It is to show that a majority of traditional Roma/Gypsy culture traits should be treated rather as a social and cultural capital – furnishing a serious assistance in the adaptation to the exigencies of contemporary civilization. Today Roma show how it is possible to be at the same time a traditional Roma and a member of a modern civil society. The features of Roma culture that should be assessed as a source of sociocultural capital are: general adaptability of Roma communities, mobility and a sort of aterritorialism of social solidarity, family and tribe solidarity (in a durkheimian sense). However, I find also traditional cultural elements that are obstacles in Roma/Gypsy advancement in the societies of today, namely: tribal divisions and dichotomisation of we-group versus out-group relations.

Spatial and social exclusion of Czech Roma: deprived urban localities and segmentation of local educational markets

Authors: Michal Nekorjak (Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University)  email
Klara Vomastkova (Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University in Brno )  email
Adéla Souralová (Masaryk University)  email
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Long Abstract

Roma urban enclaves can be characterized as social peripheries - localities in which poverty and unemployment are concentrated. The detachment of Roma from the majority group is represented in educational system as well, i.e. in the existence of sub-standard, low demanding basic schools, where Roma pupils prevail. Both phenomenons became a subject of public debates, policies, and in case of schools a subject of international legal disputes too. Until recent times, however, both problems had not been perceived interconnected.

Our paper shows how the existence of socially deprived localities and local educational markets are mutually interconnected. "Roma schools" in the neighborhoods of deprived localities are shaped through (a) institutional conditions, (b) the processes of marketization of education, and, (c) the strategies of both Roma and non-Roma parents. As an unintended consequence, "Roma schools" take part in reproduction of social inequalities and spatial exclusion of Roma in urban space. Thus, the inter-relation between stigmatized space and ethnically segmented educational markets is a key mechanism in reproduction of social inequalities in the context of the researched localities.

Traveller women and ritual power

Author: Attracta Brownlee (National University of Ireland Maynooth)  email
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Long Abstract

This study explores Irish Traveller spirituality, placing particular emphasis on Traveller women's religious rituals. As mother, as healer, as wise woman, as respected elder Traveller women wield significant powers in mediating with the divine on behalf of family and have a central role in ritually protecting the family.

Much of Traveller religious life is private and personal, such as devotions at domestic shrines and pilgrimages to holy wells. Travellers actively shape the nature of their religious experiences, and these experiences are mediated by their interactions with the institutional Catholic Church and the wider dominant culture within which they operate.

This paper is primarily concerned with addressing how women's religious lives can offer insights into the nature of religious power and how women's rituals can challenge the dominant discourses of the institutional Catholic Church, and of the wider society.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.