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Accepted Paper:

The Cosmological Relations of New (Age) Travellers.  
Freya Hope (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will explore how imaginaries of early, indigenous, and non-European cultures shape the experiences and identity of New (Age) Travellers. It will argue that their subsequent recursive fractal cosmological practices and relationalities contribute to their coherence and endurance.

Paper long abstract:

Though members of the mobile alternative community focused on in this paper are often referred to in academic literature and by NGOs as ‘New’ Travellers, they were previously widely known as ‘New Age’ Travellers. The former title was developed to denote their being ‘new’ in comparison to longer standing Gypsy and Traveller groups, as they only formed as a community from the 1960s onwards. It was also because, despite many early New Travellers having previously been part of the Hippy movement, many of those who subsequently joined from other counter-cultural groups did not identify with the connotations they felt the ‘New Age’ title implied. However, the group’s initial formation was indeed partially based around new age religion, practice, and ideology, as well as other imaginaries of early, indigenous, and non-European cultures. This paper will explore how these early cosmological ideas, ideals, and practices shaped, and continue to shape, the experiences and identity of the group. This will include how the ways they mark, celebrate, and perform rituals and festivals, e.g. for deaths, marriages, and seasonal cycles, somewhat structures the imagined past, present, and future of the group and provides opportunities for new members to join. I will suggest that despite New Travellers’ having what anthropologists may consider a romanticised ley understanding of cultural groups whom they borrow from, the subsequent recursive, fractal cosmological practices and relationalities permeate and shape their processes of worldmaking, and in doing so contribute to the coherence and endurance of this diverse and now disparate group.

Panel P135
Living (un)commonly within (and perhaps beyond?) late-liberalism: Exploring the endurance of new and longstanding alternative worlds
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -