'Tsiganes on the Brain': The 'Last Gypsy' as a Case of Archive Fever

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    Abstract

    The article identifies some of the ways in which the 'Victorian Gypsy' was constructed by a group of authors known as Gypsy lorists, and develops reading strategies that highlight the politics of their writing, in particular using Jacques Derrida's theorisation of the archive. For the Victorians, it seemed that the Gypsy way of life would soon die out. The Gypsies' apparently imminent disappearance marks their world as delicate, natural and formerly pure. However, the structure of the archive means that the lorists' attempts to preserve their version of Gypsy culture are threatened from within: they hasten the forgetting of that which they would conserve and archivally silence Gypsy voices with their own. Claims of extinction have evidently been disproved, however, and new archives successfully augment what the lorists considered to be the last word on Gypsies in Britain.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)289-316
    Number of pages28
    JournalImmigrants and Minorities
    Volume31
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

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