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Session Overview
Session
RS12_04: Strangers, Barriers and Bridges as Social Forms of Collective Life
Time:
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Maria Manuela Mendes, ISCTE-IUL
Session Chair: Pedro Jorge Caetano, New Lisbon University
Location: GM.334
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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Presentations

Building a ‘Bridge’ of Justice: Simmel's View To Overcome Otherness Towards a Democratic World

Pedro Jorge Caetano1, Maria Manuela Mendes2,3

1New Lisbon University, Portugal; 2University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal; 3Faul-University of Lisbon, Portugal

With the purpose of contextualizing in sociological terms the pervasive discrimination that Gypsies/Roma people are continuously suffering in Portugal, we explore here some contributions of Simmel's epistemological analysis, mainly from his texts Bridge and Door, Excursus on the Stranger and The Lye, the latter concerning secret societies. In this sense, it is examined how the spatial and social segregation of the Gypsies fosters the conservation of two perfectly rooted and separated moral orders. On the one hand, the Gypsy moral order, bearing on moral precepts that are based on Gypsy origins and traditions; some of them configuring a device marked by intra-ethnic secrecy as clear identity defence strategies against the assimilationist threat. On the other hand, the wider social order that penalizes gypsy people as an unreliable people. Furthermore, Gypsies also do not trust non-Gypsies. Notwithstanding, and following Simmel's essay on lying, where he called on “enlightment” to “the removal of the untruths operating in social life” as “entirely democratic in character”, we argue that the existence of more social and educational opportunities for Gypsies is indispensable for the creation of a more just and solidary society.

In order to investigate the conditions of possibility of a fairer and more inclusive society, we discuss the findings of an empirical investigation using a scenario-based questionnaire in 3 Portuguese secondary schools, with non-Roma students, about the best way to accommodate Roma school children in their own school. These findings points to two broad perspectives: the assimilation and individualization of the Gypsies.



Real Bridges and Mental Borders in a Transylvanian Ethnically Mixed Community

Stefania Toma

Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities, Romania

“The human being is likewise the bordering creature who has no border”.

Simmel 1997:69

We are overwhelmed through different channels that we are “different” from the “Other”, and that the “Other” believes in something that does not conform to our cultural or social norms. It seems that the broader society struggles with different forms of alterity. Being categorized as “different’ is more than a frame through which we understand the world, but it is one of the factors which define, cause, etc. different social processes on local level.

This article deals with formal and informal strategies of dealing with the Roma/Gypsies in a rural Transylvanian locality. Although, nowadays there are no clear spatial borders between the old Hungarian majority and the Roma communities, the mental map of the local’s still bear this separation (Migdal 2004). The physical (river) and symbolic (ethnic) borders are continuously crossed, more or less successfully.

While the bridge materializes the illusion that the two sides of the river now form one single locality uniting old inhabitants with the newcomers, more subtle and symbolic bridges ensure a more valuable connection of separated communities. This symbolic bridge is the ritual kinship between Hungarians and Roma through Godparenthood (G. and P. van Berghe 1966, Mintz and Wolf 1950, Goody 1970). Godparenthood relations in one hand extend the social network of the Roma families; on the other hand contribute to the maintenance and reinforcement of social cohesion in the community by granting new content to the work relationships between different ethnic groups.



Roma/Gypsies in Portugal and the Condition of Internal Strange: Distance vs. Proximity

Maria Manuela Mendes1,2, Olga Maria Magano1,3

1ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa; 2FAUL, University of Lisbon, Portugal; 3Open University, Portugal

In Portugal, since 1526, Gypsies have been subjected to state measures of repression, expulsion, punishment and condemnation. Since his arrival in Europe, they have always been treated with suspicion and a target of rejection. In Portugal, Spain, Germany, Austria, Hungary, France and Britain discriminatory measures were implemented, from the death penalty, deportation to the colonies to the obligation to move from place to place, city to city, and from country to country. Even today in Portugal and other European countries, Romaphobia is a well-established phenomenon in institutions and daily life. They are the "Intern Strange", although they have no other homeland of reference. Simmel (1908), addresses the tense relation of repulsion, distance, but also of approximation between the strange and the non-strange, a situation that contains important dualisms to be unveiled, such as identity vs. alterity and distance vs. proximity. In fact, there is a tendency to emphasize the general qualities we have in common with the foreigner and to accentuate the particularities, but we can also deny the factors of similarity, as is often the case with Gypsies. Through the case studies carried out by the authors, it is intended to explain how Gypsies embody this metaphorical figure and as such indicates a constant relationship of strangeness and tension that marks the history of the interaction between the majority and the Gypsies..



The Mutual (Dis)Comfort When the Stranger Inhabits the School

José Manuel Resende1,2, David Beirante1, Luís Gouveia1, Lucas Freitas Souza2

1CICS.NOVA; 2Universidade de Évora

“I believe that, not only in school, but in society in general, the first impression counts a lot.” The remark is given by Sérgio, a Romanian student. Therefore, the arrival of someone new to a space is a time of confrontation between its person as an outsider and those inside. The figure of the newcomer realizes that it is examined from his first impressions left on others. He who arrives finds strange and causes strangeness. In this sense, what counts is the appearance of first impressions. If counting on someone’s look for an immediate and superficial appreciation is returned critically by those who arrive, this disqualification serves also to others as an asset that helps not exposing themselves before the others. Thus, being welcomed and knowing how to welcome is a mutual discomfort from which it is possible to outline multiple tensions. And these disputes, with sometimes vague, obscure, visibility, allow to look at hosting and hospitality towards the newcomer through an economy of mutuality.

This talk, based on data collected from 18 interviews, from observations of classes, extended permanence in school space and in contiguous territories to two Secondary Schools, aims to reflect on the notes left by Simmel on the figure of the Stranger. But the purpose is also to go beyond what this German sociologist left us as analytical legacy. The interference of the economy of mutuality in the processes of hosting the guest perhaps allows us to perfect the grammar of hospitality.



 
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