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Fire in the Dark: Telling Gypsiness in North East England
Volume 3

Studies in Public and Applied Anthropology

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Fire in the Dark

Telling Gypsiness in North East England

Sarah Buckler

248 pages, 20 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-230-8 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (May 2007)

ISBN  978-0-85745-147-7 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (June 2011)

eISBN 978-0-85745-317-4 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®



Buckler's excellent command of the relevant ethnographic and theoretical literature is enlivened by a personal perspective and numerous excerpts from her field notes. An important, exemplary work of applied anthropology for social scientists interested in ethnicity and interethnic relations, and a must read for administrators dealing with multiethnic situations. It is among the very best of the many monographs now being produced on Romany communities in Britain. Essential.” • Choice

“…anthropologists will come, increasingly, to locate themselves...outside the universities. And if this absorbing book is anything to go by, then we should look forward to the future with confidence.” • JRAI

“…an important and original contribution to the social anthropology of Gypsies/Romanies as a growing field of ethnographic research.” • Anthropological Notebooks


Anthropologists who are employed to change the worlds they are researching find themselves in a potentially contradictory position. Combining the various roles and expectations involved in working with Gypsies and local government at the same time as conducting anthropological research, provides the overall perspective of this study. It is an unusual and effective balance of insightful ethnography and anthropological theory with the perspective of someone employed to carry out applied work. An effective and creative use of metaphor structures the entire work and allows complex ideas to be conveyed in an accessible way. Drawing upon traditional anthropological approaches such as kinship and story telling and engaging with the works of major social theorists such as Weber, Bourdieu and Foucault as well as the work of contemporary anthropologists, this work demonstrates the use of anthropology in understanding changing situations and in deciding how best to manage such situations.

Sarah (Sal) Buckler worked for many years in the arts and urban regeneration until an abiding interest in cross-cultural communication led her to study anthropology. She is currently employed in local government research and is Honorary Research Associate at Durham's Department of Anthropology.

Subject: Applied Anthropology Sociology Anthropology (General)
Area: Europe


List of Illustrations


  • Book Structure
  • Applying Anthropology


Chapter 1. Defining the Field: People and Practice in an Indeterminate Place

  • Boundaries and Meeting Places
  • Boundaries and Gypsy Identity
  • Schematic Understandings
  • Framing Interactions
  • Becoming a Person – Embodiedness
  • Speaking and the Embodiment of Language
  • Summation

Chapter 2. Reaching an Understanding – Methods and Analysis

  • Boundaries and the Research Process
  • People, Culture and Organizations
  • Ethnography at Home
  • The Search for the Subject Matter
  • Self and Other – More Assumed Boundaries
  • Engagement in the Field
  • Genealogies and Kinship Charts
  • Tales of Everyday Life and Conflicting Moral Frames
  • The Significance of Stories The Ethics of Representation

Chapter 3. The Past and Present Making of Teesside: Building a Place in the World, Finding a Place Amongst People

  • Arriving Gypsies on Teesside
  • The Sites
  • A Question of Culture
  • Putting Gypsies in Their Place


Chapter 4. Stories and Teaching Gypsiness

  • An Introduction
  • The Intersubjective Process of Socialisation
  • Another Introduction
  • Learning to Speak – Social Aesthetics and the Context of Socialisation
  • Social Aesthetics and Socialisation – the Role of Stories
  • Stories and Teaching Gypsy Children
  • Telling Stories and Enacting Stories
  • The Real World of Stories vs. the Fictional World of Books
  • Stories – Real Life or Fiction?
  • Stories and Teaching Morality
  • ‘Fictional’ vs. ‘Real-Life’ Moralities
  • Summary

Chapter 5. Stories and the Telling of Family

  • Parenting and Teaching
  • How to Be
  • Family as a Collection of Stories
  • A Sense of One’s Beginnings
  • Repeated Story Themes
  • What’s in a Name?

Chapter 6. Home is Where the Heart Is

  • Homing In
  • Telling Family Together
  • Individual and Family – the Interplay of ‘I’ and ‘We’
  • A Variety of Possible Stories
  • Where in the World?
  • Conclusion

Chapter 7. The Negotiation of Moral Ambivalence

  • What’s In and What’s Out – or Who Belongs and Who Doesn’t?
  • Making a Place in the World – Rhetoric and Meaning
  • Rhetoric, Symbols and Values – Introducing the Inchoate Families
  • Real and Imagined – the Idea of a Moral Community
  • Rhetoric and the Creation of Social Space

Part II: Summary


Part III: Introduction

Chapter 8. The Mediated Moral Imagination

  • The Character of the Gypsy
  • An Unfolding Story
  • The Story Continues
  • Telling the Story
  • ‘Our’ Way – the Various Faces of ‘We’ and ‘They’
  • Discussion

Chapter 9. A Meeting of Minds?

  • Introducing the Characters
  • Conflicts and Contradictions – the Meeting’s Internal Processes
  • Balancing Individuals and Institutions – How Groups are Made and Remade
  • Adopting Roles, Assuming Responsibilities and Assessing Behaviour
  • Making a Metaphorical Wasteland
  • Discussion

Chapter 10. Managing Multiple Perspectives

  • Finding a Point of View – Placing People in a Cultural Landscape
  • Enacting and Re-enacting Storylines
  • Shifting Perspectives and Enacting Situations
  • Conclusions


Appendix 1. Kinship Charts
Appendix 2. Newspaper Cuttings


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