Accepted paper:

Mobile form of life englobed by 'the (still) Other'


Martin Fotta

Paper short abstract:

For Calon Gypsies, the maintenance of relationships with non-Gypsies, who are seen as morally distinct with lives characterised by motionlessness, is necessary for leading good lives. The paper discusses how autonomous and ethical mobile lives are constructed when fully englobed by ‘the (still) Other’.

Paper long abstract:

Two things can be said about the processes of identification among Calon. First, Calon of Bahia (Brazil), as Gypsy populations elsewhere, have always lived in the midst of non-Gypsies (Jurons); there is no original 'moment of contact' (however mystical). The maintenance of relationships with the dangerous, more numerous and morally dubious 'Other' is therefore central for achieving autonomy and ethical sovereignty of this mode of life. Second, Calon 'nomadic cosmology' (Ferrari 2010) foregrounds movement as a key element of 'Gypsy life'. Calon oppose travel (viagem) of Gypsies to dwelling (moradia) and fixed (fixo) work of Jurons. One's capacity to involve Jurons in the project of 'establishing' oneself (through, e.g., creating a stable client base) without being associated with 'stillness' that is shadowed by death, become attributes of their gendered social person. The paper ethnographically substantiates these observations and shows that households are central for comprehending Calon assimilation of the Juron world through movement. This exercise reveals limitations of 'transcendence' assumptions, as far as this case is concerned: the limitations of imagining movement as a potentially narratable history of transformation from A to B, rather than a continuous socio-cosmological refraction; of approaching entities that capacitate or hinder movement as external to proper sociality, rather than the very conditions of life; and, related to both, of taking individuals as starting points for discussing mobility.

panel P121
Mobility, power and possibility: the search for liveable lives [ANTHROMOB]