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Drawing Distinctions within Complex Margins. ʼGypsiesʼ in the Borderland of the Swedish Kingdom, c. 1743-1809

Dates:
  • Tue 17 Apr 2018 10.00 - 12.00
  Add to Calendar 2018-04-17 10:00 2018-04-17 12:00 Europe/Paris Drawing Distinctions within Complex Margins. ʼGypsiesʼ in the Borderland of the Swedish Kingdom, c. 1743-1809

This dissertation explores the Roma (zigenare, tattare) in the context of the lower strata of society in the eastern border regions of the Swedish Kingdom c. 1743–1809. While the Roma have traditionally been studied as an isolated group, my thesis examines them in relation to other low-status people. Based on close reading of different administrative and judicial sources, it explores the construction and the maintenance of the categories zigenare and tattare in the context of vagrancy control operations, occupational spheres, conflicts, and social mobility. During the research period, Swedish labour and population policies laid emphasis on increasing population growth and labour supply. Vagrancy legislation was extended to encompass the ‘domestic’ zigenare/tattare, enabling their exploitation as a workforce. The military held a strong position in society, and military needs greatly affected the enforcement of vagrancy policies. Roma were targeted by vagrancy control more forcefully than the rest of the population. As vagrancy control was enforced at the local level, functional relations with local populations were vital for the survival of the Roma. The economic activities practiced by the Roma tied them to local communities while reinforcing the connection between mobility and the ‘Gypsy’ notion. Roma were bound to society mainly through military occupations, which provided legal protection but also accommodated them on the lower echelons of society. Differentiation between Roma and non-Roma endured throughout the period. Ethnic status was fairly persistent even in the event of changing social status. Ethnicity was usually based on descent, but it could also be connected to a way of life, dark appearance, weak ties to church, and, possibly, to language. However, the ethnic boundaries were not impermeable and the undefined character of the categories zigenare/tattare could allow some flexibility in administrative practices and entail uncertainty concerning identities.

Seminar Room 4 - Badia Fiesolana DD/MM/YYYY
  Seminar Room 4 - Badia Fiesolana

This dissertation explores the Roma (zigenare, tattare) in the context of the lower strata of society in the eastern border regions of the Swedish Kingdom c. 1743–1809. While the Roma have traditionally been studied as an isolated group, my thesis examines them in relation to other low-status people. Based on close reading of different administrative and judicial sources, it explores the construction and the maintenance of the categories zigenare and tattare in the context of vagrancy control operations, occupational spheres, conflicts, and social mobility. During the research period, Swedish labour and population policies laid emphasis on increasing population growth and labour supply. Vagrancy legislation was extended to encompass the ‘domestic’ zigenare/tattare, enabling their exploitation as a workforce. The military held a strong position in society, and military needs greatly affected the enforcement of vagrancy policies. Roma were targeted by vagrancy control more forcefully than the rest of the population. As vagrancy control was enforced at the local level, functional relations with local populations were vital for the survival of the Roma. The economic activities practiced by the Roma tied them to local communities while reinforcing the connection between mobility and the ‘Gypsy’ notion. Roma were bound to society mainly through military occupations, which provided legal protection but also accommodated them on the lower echelons of society. Differentiation between Roma and non-Roma endured throughout the period. Ethnic status was fairly persistent even in the event of changing social status. Ethnicity was usually based on descent, but it could also be connected to a way of life, dark appearance, weak ties to church, and, possibly, to language. However, the ethnic boundaries were not impermeable and the undefined character of the categories zigenare/tattare could allow some flexibility in administrative practices and entail uncertainty concerning identities.


Location:
Seminar Room 4 - Badia Fiesolana

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Francesca Parenti - Send a mail

Supervisor:
Laura Downs (EUI)

Defendant:
Tuula Maria Rekola (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Examiner:
Pieter Judson
Panu Pulma (University of Helsinki)
David Mayall (University of Derby)

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