Romani Studies in Iceland
The Gypsy shantytown at the doorstep: urban (in)formalities in the Roman peripheries
This paper uses Romani approaches to urban space as lenses to reflect on urban informality and the ways this is navigated by underprivileged actors, such as Roma migrants and other urban poor. The materials presented were collected during ethnographic fieldwork in informal shanties in the south-western periphery of Rome (Italy). These materials will be analyzed in light of recent conceptualizations of urban formality and informality as forming a single interconnected system and intersecting with processes of confinement and racialization.
The paper highlights the variety of Roma practices of urban space by proposing a comparison between the dwelling strategies of Bosnian Roma and Romanian Roma; it thus shows how these are informed by heterogeneous understandings of non-Roma conceptions and practices of (in)formality, (il)legality and (il)licitness. The paper also explores the complex and ambivalent attitudes concerning Roma and their informal settlements on the part of non-Roma residents of the neighboring district. Finally, it reveals “grey spaces” in urban governance by examining the local authorities’ juggling of formal rejection and informal calculated acceptance of urban informality.
Sígaunasögur á Íslandi
Bókmenntir Rómafólks eru nú almennt vel þekktar á Vesturlöndum. Á Íslandi hefur fólki af Róma uppruna fjölgað á undanförnum árum en lítið er vitað um menningu þess og bókmenntir. Í þessu erindi verður sagt frá verkefni sem unnið er að á vegum Stofnunar Vigdísar Finnbogadóttur í erlendum tungumálum og lýtur að gerð smásagnasafns eftir sex höfunda af Róma uppruna. Sagt verður frá helstu einkennum sagnanna sem byggja gjarnan á sjálfsævisögulegum brotum eða þjóðsögum. Dæmi verða tekin úr verkum rithöfundarins Matéo Maximoffs sem skrifaði bæði á frönsku og rómaní. Í bók sinni La poupée de Mameliga. Le livre de la peur (Brúða Mameligu. Hryllingssögur) sækir Maximoff innblástur í þjóðsögur, siði og venjur Kalderash sígauna. Hann skrifar sögurnar markvisst fyrir þá sem ekki þekkja menningu hans og tungu og leiðir lesandann inn í heim sem er í senn framandi og kunnuglegur fyrir íslenskan almenning.
How specific is Romani migration to Iceland: Reflections on preliminary research
Although small in numbers, Roma families have always been part of the Eastern European communities’ migration to Iceland. In the period since 2016, probably also as effect of the situation in post-Brexit Europe, a more compact migration of Romanian Roma families (amounting to couple of hundreds) has been observed in Reykjavík. This presentation will discuss my preliminary research on Romani migration to Iceland in synchronic and diachronic prospective. The research is qualitative and a combines historical and ethnographic methods. The historical presence of Roma in Iceland was investigated by archival research and oral history methods. Contemporary Romani migration was studies by ethnographic research among Roma families in Reykjavík. Research results point to the fact that, in contrast to the widespread media and public discourse on poor Roma migrants in Western and Nordic countries, Roma migration in Iceland remains almost invisible. The discussion addresses the following questions: Can we speak of any particularities of the Romani migration to Iceland when compared to other countries, especially in the Nordic region; What kind of challenges are faced by Romanian Roma migrating to Iceland; What kind of challenges are faced by the institutions working with Roma migrants.
Sociology of Religion and Milieu Analysis. The veneration of the folk saint La Santa Muerte (Saint Death/Holy Death) in the USA and Mexico in transnational perspective.
This presentation introduces a doctoral project on the veneration of the Mexican folk saint, La Santa Muerte, and furthermore, addresses the opportunities and limitations of the approach used for the study of contemporary religiosities. Mexican society is currently facing socially momentous collective experiences: social and political conflicts, migration, organized crime, precarious public security, and impunity. They, in turn, produce milieu-specific collective experiences and forms of vulnerability which constitute the context in which the number of people worshipping the religious figure La Santa Muerte in Mexico and the USA has been growing – a tendency discernible since the 2000s. Many of the believers, who often find themselves in precarious living conditions, seek help and protection from La Santa Muerte. Based on recent theorizing on „lived religion“ and Weberian sociology of religion, the project outlines four different milieu experiences constituting the social background of the veneration of La Santa Muerte: (1) milieu experience of lack of social ties, (2) that of anomie and stigma, (3) that of social fragmentation, and (4) of precarious order. The database consists of interviews with believers, photographs of altar spaces, protocols of religious practices collected during fieldwork in the USA and Mexico in 2015/2016. The project combines qualitative analysing methods.