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Accepted Paper:

Looking Back to Move Forward: Irish Travellers, Purity, and Tradition in an Urban Camp  
Anthony Howarth (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

Highly marginalised groups such as Travellers and Gypsies have been invested in making alternative worlds for centuries. This paper explores purity taboos, men’s prerogative to provide for their families, and social isolationism as survivance strategies that make Travellers' worlds.

Paper long abstract:

When considering the world-making practices of Travellers and Gypsies, David Graeber’s suggestion that we could easily make a different world to the one in which we now live appears somewhat myopic (2015). Of course, Graeber is referring to the wide-scale devastation late-liberalism has wrought on the planet, but the fact remains that highly marginalised groups have been, and continue to be, deeply invested in making alternatives for centuries. This does not mean that Travellers and Gypsies are unconventional in the sense of countercultural movements, rather that their traditions, while subject to transformation, provide a sense of continuity and stability.

Regarding this, the paper asks: how do groups such as Travellers and Gypsies endure when states and broader host societies have purposely set out to obliterate their lifeways? And what can we learn from their adherence to tradition (seemingly past-oriented practices) regarding future-focused activity? To respond, this paper draws on my ethnographic research with Travellers living in a roadside encampment in South London. Here, seemingly conservative practices such as purity taboos, men’s prerogative to provide for their families, and social isolationism will be explored as survivance strategies.

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, -