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'A Gypsy is a gypsy': a literary construction in a long-term perspective
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, The Hugo Valentin Centre.
2013 (English)In: Scandia, ISSN 0036-5483, Vol. 79, no 1, 11-37 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyses Swedish antiziganism (anti-Gypsyism) in a long-term perspective as a discursive formation deriving from the conceptual gypsy: a historically constructed image born of social, religious, and racial prejudice that is projected onto Roma and others. The source material has been chosen to reflect the intertextuality between the non-fictional gypsiology literature of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries: the influential work of the German historian Heinrich Moritz Grellmann is compared with the Swedish doctoral dissertations of Samuel P. Bjorckman (1730) and Laurentius Rabenius (1791); the three-part documentary Zigenare (1929, 1955 and 19 63) by the popular Proletarian School author Ivar Lo-Johansson; the civil rights intervention by Katarina Taikon from a Roma discourse position (Zigenare ar vi, 1963); and finally Karl-Olov Arnstberg's controversial study Svenskar och zigenare (1998). The article posits a strong link between the academic antiziganism of the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, and the notions of Roma culture as essentially anti-social, and thus to be combated by forced assimilation; of Roma as ungrateful for the generosity of their hosts; and of antiziganism as caused by Roma behaviour. The continuity is obvious in the use of recurring reference codes, such as typologies of 'gypsy' crimes, used in a circular argument to slap the label of gypsy on actual and supposed Roma. The study also exposes the biological racism inherent in Swedish antiziganism, and in the case of Lo-Johansson clarifies the meaning of philoziganism as excluding and essentialist in its romantic projections onto Roma. Further, the article shows that 'zigenare' (gypsy') in Swedish is unambiguously linked to a pejorative discourse, though in all the works discussed it is used in references to, but not always when referring to Roma, and is thus considered unsuitable, as well as unethical, as an analytical notion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 79, no 1, 11-37 p.
Keyword [en]
Antiziganism, anti-Gypsyism, philoziganism, discourse analysis, Sweden
National Category
Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-203698ISI: 000319855400002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-203698DiVA: diva2:637345
Available from: 2013-07-17 Created: 2013-07-17 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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Selling, Jan

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