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“We beg you not to equate the names of Gypsies and knife-grinders with honest traders”: Itinerant Trade and Racialization of “Gypsies” in Czech Lands Between 1918 and 1938

Abstract : This article focusses on common contemporary associations of itinerant trades with ‘Gypsy-ness’ and the consequent relationship between adopting anti-Gypsy measures and state in-tentions to regulate the profession of itinerant trades. By analysing the intended bill on itin-erant trades, this article shows how administrative police terms such as ‘Gypsies’ and ‘work-shies’ were intertwined. It further argues that limiting space for mobile, self-employed economic activities went hand in hand with legalising the status of second-class citizens in 1927 when a new law On Wandering Gypsies was passed by the Czechoslovak Parliament. The article also analyses the agency of one particular itinerant traders’ association called Kotva (Anchor) and pays attention to the traders’ manifold defensive strategies. Because of their close contacts with Roma and Sinti (with whom they shared social and economic spac-es) the traders sought to set themselves apart from Gypsies and to present themselves as ‘de-cent citizens’, in other words part of the Czechoslovak nation. In their successful effort to shield themselves from being included in the new police register of ‘wandering Gypsies’, they reproduced and amplified the state aim to eliminate ‘work-shies’ among itinerant traders. The article thus deals with the process of racialization of the category of ‘Gypsies’ in interwar Czechoslovakia, with racialization here being presented as an intricate historical process which was influenced even by non-state historical actors.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02914736
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Submitted on : Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 2:10:33 PM
Last modification on : Friday, March 12, 2021 - 1:42:02 PM

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Pavel Baloun. “We beg you not to equate the names of Gypsies and knife-grinders with honest traders”: Itinerant Trade and Racialization of “Gypsies” in Czech Lands Between 1918 and 1938. S:I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. DocumentatiON., Wiener Wiesenthal Institut für Holocaust-Studien (VWI) 2019, 6 (2), pp.44-55. ⟨10.23777/SN0219/ART_PBAL01⟩. ⟨halshs-02914736⟩

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