Extending earlier work, “Gypsy fate”: Carriers of our collective shadow,
which addressed questions of identity and alterity, and explored possibilities
of responding to the “problem” of the scapegoat in terms of ethical
understanding, I return to further examine narratives of Western European
Roma through a Jungian perspective.
In this reading I revisit the Romani as a group identified with the Nomad
archetype. Named “parasitic nomads” (Petrova, 2003), “inborn wanderers”
(Trubeta, 2003), and thieving travellers, Romani peoples are deemed at odds with and a threat to “settled” society. Here biographies and cultural myths are explored as a way to challenge the collective shadow cast upon a group “incapable of social conformity” (Trubeta, 2003, p. 503) and to offer an example of nomadic consciousness that is essential to developing an ethic of hospitality towards the unknown in oneself and the other. The Roma challenge the notion of a fixed and stable identity that is rooted in place, location, and a particular history. Even though their migration to Europe began in the ninth century, to this day the Roma have not formed or claimed a homeland. Here a case is made for collective identity constructed through movement, fluidity, and no formal stake in state.
In the case of the Vlach Rom of Hungary, Stewart (1997) moves away from the typical view that they have an “ethnic” identity, an identity of descent and inheritance. He writes: "The Rom do not have an ethnic identity. For them, identity is constructed and constantly remade in the present in relations with significant others, not something inherited from the past" (p. 28).
What, then, does it mean to develop an identity “in the present in relations with significant others”? How might a nomadic consciousness contribute to more ethical relations with place and community? Indeed, what does it mean to not identify with a nation, a political system or geographical markers? What, in this case, constitutes a sense of home?