Accepted Paper:

Home "aesthetization" and meanings of house-painting practices in a Roma community from southern Romania  


Andreea Racles (Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture)

Paper short abstract:

The process of home ‘aethetization’ is a socially aspirant one in terms of projections of ideal social and family relations. The painting walls activity as performed by Roma women from a southern Romania community is a illustrative evidence for this process.

Paper long abstract:

Understanding home as a process in which inhabitants engage by reproducing cultural and social patterns, the ethnographic research I have carried out in 2011 in a Roma community from a southern Romania village reveals that practices of home 'aesthetisation' are socially aspirant in terms of projections of ideal social and family relations. The particular analysis of the domestic practice of painting the dwellings' walls - which is an exclusively women activity - sheds light on the idea that home illustrates in many ways the link between domestic aesthetic experiences and objectification of family values. 'Of course I have showed to my daughter how to paint the walls, otherwise what will her husband and mother in law say about her? That she knows nothing!'. Similar reflections of the Roma women I interviewed prompt ideas about the cultural embeddedness of home related practices. Some of these ideas allow us to understand the activity of house painting as a part of the following processes: reaffirming the womanhood through the successful performances of the domestic responsibilities, improving home through space purification, and controlling the space by achieving the expected result of the painting activities. Starting from these three connotations this practice can be considered a ritual practice through which the house is passing from a dirty and messy house to a purified and ordered one. At the same time it provides means to understand how the domestic investment mediates between the inhabitants' perception about their house and the imagination of the ideal home.

Panel P49
Translating cultural imaginaries of home: near-homes and far-homes