Racles [Abstract]

Stories with and about wall carpets. An anthropological account on the inhabitation of Ursari Romanian Roma [Full text]

Andreea Racleş [1]

AbstractThe aim of this paper is to discuss the ways in which objects assist us in telling small stories about our positions in relation to our inhabited space, but also in relation to perceived dichotomised categories like us-others, the modern-the outmoded, civilized-backward. Acknowledging that narratives emerge from interactions between people, this paper is an attempt to show that an important role in the emergence of stories is played by interactions between people and objects. The wall carpets hung by Ursari Roma from a north-eastern Romanian town and the stories developed with and about these items constitute the main focus of this analysis. From an anthropological and material culture perspective, wall carpets are discussed as material presences in storytelling events and as objects of experience-centred stories that assist Roma people in negotiating and enacting their identities and belongings. Taking a cue from Georgakopoulou, who argues that narratives count on both discourses and activities (2007), home making practices and domestic activities (such as those related to the maintenance of the wall carpets) are essential to this paper, as they enable an understanding of the “performative narrative of daily life” (Langellier 2004). The analysis is based on ethnographic material collected in 2014 in the aforementioned community, while the unit of analysis consists of excerpts from discussions with two Roma families, which became storytelling episodes.

Keywords: Performative narrative of daily life, Roma families, Ursari, carpets

[1] Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture, Justus Liebig University (Giessen), andreea.racles@gmail.com