CASCA/IUAES2017 Conference in Ottawa
- Judith Okely (Oxford University/University of Hull) email
- Louise De La Gorgendiere (Carleton University) email
Varied experiences of human movement are often neglected under strict guidelines re: immigration, refugee claims, settlement, relocation, rights, identity, or property/border concerns. Narratives of lived experiences are rich counterpoints to globalized narratives/discourse surrounding 'movement'.
This panel focuses on the differing experiences of human movement, which are often neglected under strict guidelines and laws related to immigration, refugee claims, settlement, relocation, property, rights, identity, tourism, and concerns for national or other borders. We bear witness to a globalized world where "movement" is aggressively channeled, contested, regulated, and denied, as several historical and contemporary examples can attest: removal of Aboriginal, Roma, and Gypsy children from families for assimilation purposes; undermining legitimate immigration or refugee claims because of suspicion of the 'cultural other' and/or social, political, and economical ignorance; fear and suspicion of Nomads by a hegemonic authority. Borders, which restrict movement, are reinforced at local levels by reserving prime urban spaces for capitalist edifices or gated communities for the wealthy, while marginalized others live in slums or ethnic ghettos. This panel seeks to bring to the fore people's narratives and lived experiences to serve as counterpoints to the globalized and overarching narratives and discourse surrounding "movement" in a world in motion.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Nomads or migrants? Comparing narratives on Romanian Roma migration to Italy
The paper questions the hegemonic concept of nomadism through which Italian society conceives Roma’s mobility measuring it against the counter-hegemonic narratives of some Romanian Roma migrants to Italy. These Roma interpret their mobility as a form of transnational migration and not of nomadism.
The equivalence of 'Gypsies', 'Roma' and 'Nomads' is a mainstay of Italian hegemonic narratives regarding Romani groups, constantly reinforced by the rhetoric of the media and politicians as well as social agents in a variety of public roles. The culturalist vision of Roma and Sinti groups living in Italy as 'Nomads' has deeply influenced, and continues to influence, policy implementation towards populations that each have extremely different histories, legal status, socio-cultural and economic conditions. These policies often conceal the practical exclusion of many of these groups from substantial citizenship rights (e.g. access to resources and services).
The aim of this paper is to question the concept of nomadism that Italian society conceives Roma's mobility through, by measuring it against some particular Roma's counter-hegemonic narratives. The paper is based on data from an ethnographic fieldwork with some migrant Romanian Roma families in Southern Italy. An analysis of these Roma's narratives shows that they interpret their mobility as a form of transnational migration and not of nomadism. They are petitioning for their mobility to be considered as included in the framework of migratory movements toward Western Europe that many Romanian citizens have embarked upon since the collapse of the Ceaușescu regime. The analysis also traces some recurring themes in their narratives (e.g. the repeated and predominant desire for a house) that reveal a demand for the deconstruction of the common idea of these Roma as 'Nomadic people'.
Nomadism, revisited: 'socio-political nomadism' and Roma women
Against the backdrop of securitising narratives surrounding the mobility of Roma from Eastern Europe to Italy, I will bring to the fore the lived experiences of movement of Roma women living in precarious conditions in Rome. They reinvest with meaning movement, immobility, borders and spaces.
Against the backdrop of securitising narratives surrounding the mobility of Roma from Eastern Europe to Italy, the paper will bring to the fore the lived experiences of movement of Roma women living in precarious conditions in Rome. From their dwellings—temporary housing arrangements, official camps, 'illegal' settlements or 'reception centres' perpetually under threat of eviction—they recount their movements between states and places as they try to navigate economic hardship, the (im)mobility imposed by states' regulations of movement, and personal contingencies. While academic and activist discourses tend to reject the notion of 'nomadism' applied to Eastern European Roma as a discursive instrument of exoticisation, romanticisation, and othering, the movement of Roma women recounting their experiences points to contemporary forms of 'socio-economic nomadism', in which Roma from Eastern Europe multiply and manage their spatial mobilities to contest and resist the social (and sometimes spatial) immobility which often seems imposed on them. After exposing the ambiguous securitisation narratives portraying Eastern European Roma either as a threat to the 'civilised' subjects of the nation-state, or as a danger to themselves—and often both at the same time—I summon fragments from the life stories of Roma women to reconstitute the moments of their mobilities spurred by those narratives, and their lived experiences of movement across state and urban borders and spaces. In the process, movement and immobility, borders and spaces are reinvested with meaning.
Arakhlem yek than - "I've found a place": beyond the French administrative category of "gens du voyage"
Called "nomads" then "gens du voyage" by the French administration, the so-called "Hungarian" Roma have been under a regime of surveillance for more than a hundred years. Roma do not see themselves as defined by the necessity to move, but as people strongly connected to the places where they stop.
Initially called "nomads" then "gens du voyage" by the French administration, the so-called "Hungarian" Roma have been under a regime of surveillance for more than a hundred years: their mobility was deemed a danger to French public order. This paper will defend the thesis that the "Hungarian" Roma do not see themselves as people defined by the necessity to move, but as people strongly connected to the places where they stop. A stopping-place - yek than - is indeed a place where they can form a new kumpania.
The Roma conception of "travel" is therefore the result of a complex dialectic between, on the one hand, gathering and dispersing of kumpania and, on the other hand, administrative constraints. Not long after they arrived in late nineteenth-century France persecution began: the movements of those groups were to be registered in a carnet anthropométrique (anthropometric identity booklet) (1912), large family-gathering were banned (1935), their internment (1940-1946) and, more recently, their assignment to places reserved for so-called "gens du voyage" (2000). But in a country organized simultaneously along territorial sovereignty rules and the privatization of public spaces, the strength of kumpania (company) is that they have no territory of their own to defend and that their temporary dispersal is but a modality of their internal relational structure. That is to say that the dispersal is not the end of the group, but means its metamorphosis. Another configuration will appear later somewhere else. The essential thing for them is not to know where they go but with whom.
Nomadism celebrated by Gypsies and Travellers, but seemingly stigmatised by post communist Roma
Nomadism, as celebration or stigma, controversially divides Gypsy/Traveller groups in N. Europe from Roma groups associated with S. and E. Europe. One embracing movement and mobile homes against housing. The other long sedentarised, when moving, become self-labelled migrants expecting fixed housing.
Throughout much the world, nomadism is stereotyped, controlled, if not persecuted. Gypsies, derived from 'Egyptians', once a label for all migrants to Britain, adopt the title, identifying as nomadic ethnic groups in England and Wales. Elsewhere, Gypsies in California, have moved regularly and seasonally, albeit to and from rented accommodation, disguising their ethnicity from landlords and customers. Today, 'nomadism', as cultural category, is being used to distinguish and divide Gypsy/Traveller groups located for centuries in Northern Europe from others, often labelled Roma, especially in Southern or Eastern Europe. Before communist intervention, unique service nomads, such as Roma, exploited movement for politico/economic reward and cultural semi-autonomy.
Subsequently, as victims of enforced state settlement and factory labour, Roma risked criminalisation if found secretly travelling, let alone as self-employed 'capitalists' trading goods. Many were subject to greater movement control than non-Roma. Post-communism, most Roma have rarely experienced nomadic lifestyles. Many, suffering poverty in ghettos and racist isolation, after nations such as Romania and Slovakia were incorporated, have embraced the EU ideal of 'free movement' for migrants. Then nomadism as stigma is experienced and internalised.
By contrast, UK Gypsies/Travellers had longer retained nomadic lifestyles under capitalism. But from 1994, nomadic preferences were massively destroyed. Legislation requiring official Gypsy site provision abolished, the Gypsies limited their movements. Thus agriculture, once dependent on Gypsies' seasonal labour, exploits cheap foreign migrants. Meanwhile, Gypsy/Traveller groups, housed against their will at huge welfare cost, have not internalised stigmas of nomadism. The latter is celebrated and yearned for.
Sedentarism as an exclusionary category: the forced displacement of Hampi community in India
The paper reveals the Hampi villagers’ failed struggle against their forced displacement from a UNESCO site in India. It argues that the discursive superiority of sedentarism over mobility that privileges ‘rooted culture’ works against communities which have been formed by mobility processes.
This ethnographic study demonstrates how the discursive superiority of sedentarism over mobility that privileges distinctive 'rooted culture' may work against communities which have emerged as an outcome of mobility processes.
The residents of Hampi - a south Indian village - have been forcibly displaced from the core zone of the UNESCO World Heritage site since 2011. Two thirds of the village population has already been evicted and their homes and small enterprises demolished. Initially, the most disadvantaged established a shanty encampment on the outskirts of the village. They are currently being resettled.
The evictions were based on a conservationist paradigm and I analyse why the Hampi villagers' attempts to resist the forced displacement did not succeed despite employing the concept of intangible heritage, which was to adopt a more "human rights-based" approach to heritage management. I argue that they discursively failed to prove their 'cultural authenticity' as they were neither natives to Hampi nor peasants attached to their ancestors' land. Their community had been formed in the 1940s in the process of inward migration caused by droughts. Later on, they engaged with the low-budget tourism sector which attracted new migrants. As a result they have been framed in the public discourse as both "illegal encroachers" with no land rights and an "artificial", "commercialised" community contaminated by market economy. In comparison, a neighbouring village of Anegondi - which fits the native frame of traditional culture - is developing rural endogenous tourism with the support of the state tourism agency and the UN Development Programme.
Child migration: reconsidering globalized narratives from the perspectives of young Haitian migrants growing up in the Dominican republic
Dominant advocacy narratives about child migration tend to emphasize children’s vulnerability and to depict them as victims of trafficking and exploitation. This paper challenges these globalized narratives by contrasting them with the localized experiences/voices of Haitian children living in the DR.
Dominant advocacy narratives about child migration tend to emphasize children's vulnerability and to depict them as victims of human trafficking and exploitation. In fact, it has been assumed that child migration is a homogenous and inherently negative experience, that children are safest 'at home', that they don't play an active role in the migration process, and that the best way to protect them is to regulate their movement. Drawing on evidence from an ethnographic research integrating different participatory techniques with boys and girls (aged 9-17 years) of Haitian origin who have migrated illegally to the Dominican Republic, I intend to show that these prevailing assumptions should be reconsidered.
Frist, I will briefly portray the complexity and diversity of children's migration motives and experiences. Then, I will explore the multiple ways in which young people exert agency in the migration process. Finally, I will discuss how current interventions often conflict with children's best interests and are characterized by a mismatch between the imagined vulnerabilities of child migrants and the very real violations of their rights they experience in their daily lives. In other words, the aim of this paper is to challenge the dominant narratives and the globalized policy prescriptions about child migration by contrasting them with the localized experiences and voices of a group of young Haitian migrants. I situate my analysis within an emergent anthropology of childhood, a child-centered approach based on the recognition of young people's agency and dedicated to making it visible.
Re-imagining home in the diaspora: testimonial narratives of Iranian women
This paper explores the politics of re-making a home diaspora, a mobile unit. It makes a case for the potential of testimonial narratives in resolving the long-standing tension between gendered mobility and rootedness in place.
This paper explores the politics of re-making a home diaspora, a mobile unit. It makes a case for the potential of testimonial narratives in resolving the long-standing tension between gendered mobility and rootedness in place. While relaying singular experiences, I argue that testimonial narratives capture a collective situation inscribed in the social landscape to tell a more powerful story, a point that this paper addresses using a gendered lens. This discussion is grounded in the testimonial narratives of two Iranian women living in Canada. Drawing on ethnographic research (2004, 2015-2016) in metropolis Vancouver, this paper shows that women's reimagining of home is not merely related to reconfiguration of culture and traditions but include the dimension of interrogating the unit of the nation-state. I argue for greater attention to be paid to the larger and more critical role of women brought to light through what is otherwise considered as mundane activities of everyday life. This paper contributes to the burgeoning literature on the constitution of a diasporic/mobile home that include but also exceed territorial boundaries.
Diasporic entanglements and testimonials: navigating immigration processes and the lived experiences of Ghanaians in Canada
Personal testimonials and lived experiences of Ghanaian migrants highlight ruptures between the welcoming discourse of Canada's immigration policies and the ultimate realities of settlement.
Based on multi-sited fieldwork, this paper briefly touches upon immigration policies as an entry-point to explore the lived experiences of members of the Ghanaian diaspora in Canada. Using life histories and immigration experiences, it highlights the impacts of people's decisions to uproot themselves from the familiarity of "home' to relocate to Canada, either directly or as a final landing point. One critical aspect of this movement is experienced when becoming entangled in the bureaucratic process of immigration, wherein regulations can keep families, spouses, parents and children separated from one another. This comes at a huge social, personal, and economic cost to individuals. While the immigration discourse nominally endorses cultural diversity, specific cultural differences, especially those thought of as far removed from the Canadian standard, are viewed as obstacles to immigration and integration. Migrants' narratives of lived experiences serve as counter-discourses that challenge the welcoming and inclusive discourse surrounding immigration and settlement to Canada. These narratives also demonstrate the resilience of individuals determined to survive.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.