Accepted Paper:

Constructing and conceptualizing a contested space: knowledge and cosmology among the Gitanos of El Rastro  


Marianne Blom Brodersen (Norwegian University of science and technology)

Paper short abstract:

With this paper I seek to explore the construction and conceptualization of Gitano (Gypsy) cosmology. I focus on how cosmology, as ‘knowledge’, is being produced, reproduced, distributed and used within the context and rise of Gitano Pentecostalism on the one hand, and Roma activism on the other.

Paper long abstract:

This paper must be seen as a 'work in progress' where I examine how Lo Gitano ('Gypsyness') is being formed and framed within the context of 21st century Europe. I do this by looking at Gitano cosmology as 'knowledge', and by investigating the production, re-production, distribution and use of this knowledge. I will further focus on the emergence of new 'bodies' or 'branches of knowledge' (Barth 2002) accompanying the rise of Gitano Pentecostalism on the one hand, and Roma activism on the other. I will look at how these different 'branches of knowledge' co-exist, conflict and compete with each other. My empirical 'point of departure' is El Rastro, a specific Gitano barrio (quarter) in Madrid. Following these new tendencies I am interested in how Gitano cosmology, identity and knowledge tradition are subject to change. Against this background I seek to look at El Rastro as a 'zone of awkward engagement' (Tsing 2005) wherein the various cultural entrepreneurs negotiate, conceptualize and form discourse and practice connected to prosperity, knowledge and freedom in relation to Gitanos in particular, and Gypsies or Roma, in general. Following Anna Tsing (2005), we must put 'distress' center stage for our research; it is in the 'friction' of different encounters and horizons, that the symbolic and social boundaries, the categorizations and labels, are constructed and reconstructed. As argued by Tsing (2005), the formation of cultural continuity and coherence are often accompanied by conflict and misunderstanding and it is precisely the potential for misinterpretation and struggle that interests me in this case.

Panel IW004
Towards an anthropology of misunderstanding (EN)