National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Bucharest
Ethnographic research among a Gypsy population from Transylvania, the Cortorari provides me with insights for advancing the theorization of Gypsies’ attitudes towards temporality, and the understanding of their survival as a group. Contrary to other Romany people who are uninterested in the material world around them, and whose attitudes towards time are informed by a presentist orientation, the Cortorari convey a strong commitment to the ownership of some objects of wealth and status, namely the chalices. Practices related to the possession of chalices reveal a stance on time which accommodates pulls towards the past, the present, and the future. Coming from the ancestors, chalices circulate as male heirlooms, and are central to practices of marriage. What is critical about chalices is that, on a temporal dimension, they secure permanence and immutability. I look at how different kinds of time, memory and historicity relate to each other and are weaved into the social reproduction of the group.