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Ephemeral urban topographies of Swedish Roma. On dwelling at the mobile-immobile nexus

Chapter in book
Authors Ingrid Martins Holmberg
E. Persson
Published in Dwelling in mobile times : places, practices and contestations
Pages 198 p
ISBN 1138717592
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication London & New York
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Conservation
Pages 198 p
Language en
Keywords KEYWORDS: Seasonality, multi-sitedness, material devices, assemblage, co-habitation, Roma
Subject categories Cultural Studies, International Migration and Ethnic Relations, Settlement studies


Although celebrating five hundred years in Sweden in 2012, only little attention has been given to the Roma's long-term presence in the Swedish landscape, and even lesser to their historical presence in urban contexts. Bearing in mind the Roma's twentieth-century European history and knowing of their contemporary situation, this knowledge gap is no surprise. This paper will present a study that has assembled various traces of Roma dwelling in a Swedish urban setting from the late nineteenth century until the 1950s. The study enables a pinning down of the mobile–immobile nexus around which the Swedish Roma everyday cultural practices of dwelling evolved during the particular period before citizenship and subsequent settlement: regulation, seasonality, income opportunities and material devices. Hereby it hopes to contribute to an understanding of Roma urban dwelling as moored in history by corporeality and materiality, and as related both with locality and with ‘elsewhere’. The following questions are posed: Which were these urban places of dwelling and what characteristics do they have; what kinds of social connections and interactions were established at these places (co-habitation); in what sense can these places reveal a differentiated Roma history of dwelling? Besides uncovering a particular ephemeral ‘multi-sitedness’, the study also reveals Roma urban dwelling as related to broader spectrum of tenure than hitherto recognized.

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