Transgressive Terrain: Risk, Otherness and ‘New Age’ Nomadism

  • Leah Wild

Abstract

Nomadism has a history as old as the history of mankind. From the Hebrew bible to the contemporary road movie, life on the move has been allegorised, imagined and deciphered with a fantastical romanticism that has inspired both longing and contempt. Academic discourse is saturated with concepts of nomadism, mobility and displacement. At an everyday level our accounts of human social life constantly refer to metaphors of journey and escape. However, there is a profound ambivalence around mobility and mobile populations. Immigrants, guestworkers, refugees, the stateless, the homeless, hobos, freight-train riders, tramps and showmen — these diverse peoples have something particular in common: they arouse fear and suspicion, yet conversely fascination and longing among the sedentary populations they come into contact with. This ambivalence is particularly tangible in relation to Gypsies and other Travellers. Of course Gypsies, Travellers and other nomads comprise a large number of heterogeneous groups in terms of culture, language and history, however there is a common thread that runs through their miscellaneous histories — they are all attributed other status, an otherness that is in essence ambivalent and inextricably linked to notions of risk. Of course, ‘there are no groups that are intrinsically other. Rather, such groups are constructed as other by the categories and concepts used to describe them’ (Hetherington 2000: 10).

Keywords

Migration Schizophrenia Coherence Defend Abate 

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Copyright information

© Leah Wild 2005

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  • Leah Wild

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