Romani Studies

Authentic violence: The changing sameness of ‘real’ Romani discourse in Dominic Reeve’s life story

Romani Studies (2016), 26, (2), 129–149.

Abstract

The article focuses on the discourse of the real or true Romani/traveller in Dominic Reeve’s life story, which consists of five autobiographical texts published between 1958 and 2010. Reeve defends various factions of Romanies/travellers from a real/fake dichotomy that partially dominates negotiations of recognition. This discourse changes over time from biological to bio-cultural and then to cultural, but then on to bio-genetic and finally a conflation of bio-genetic and cultural discourse. However, throughout these changes there is a structural sameness that Reeve cannot quite escape, and which casts doubt on whether the discourse actually does change. Ultimately, Reeve attempts to settle on a traveller-gauje divide, but the real/fake discourse re-emerges, thus reproducing the dominant discourse itself. During these negotiations, Reeve communicates with three seemingly competitive views of Romani/traveller identity, and in a sense re-unites them. On a more subjective level, Reeve gradually negotiates a much-desired position of group belonging for himself and this brings the life story into the frame of the bildungsroman.

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Shaw, Martin