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ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS  May 2019

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Subject:

NEW BOOK – Materializing Difference: Consumer Culture, Politics, and Ethnicity among Romanian Roma

From:

Peter Berta <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Peter Berta <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 6 May 2019 10:38:02 +0000

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text/plain (40 lines) , Materializing_Difference_Cover.jpg (40 lines)



*** Apologies for self-promotion and cross-posting ***
Dear Colleagues,
I hope you won't mind my announcing that my book– „MaterializingDifference: Consumer Culture, Politics, and Ethnicity among Romanian Roma” –is finally out (University of Toronto Press; with a foreword by Fred R. Myers;384 pages + 34 color photographs). For further details, please see https://utorontopress.com/ca/materializing-difference-4 or below.
Short Description: How do objects mediate human relationships, and possess their own socialand political agency? What role does material culture – such as prestigeconsumption as well as commodity aesthetics, biographies, and ownership histories– play in the production of social and political identities, differences, andhierarchies? How do (informal) consumer subcultures of collectors organize andmanage themselves? Drawing on theories from anthropology and sociology,specifically material culture, consumption, museum, ethnicity, andpost-socialist studies, Materializing Difference addressesthese questions via analysis of the practices and ideologies connected to GaborRoma beakers and roofed tankards made of antique silver. The consumer subcultureorganized around these objects – defined as ethnicized and gendered prestigegoods by the Gabor Roma living in Romania – is a contemporary, second-handculture based on patina-oriented consumption.    Materializing Difference reveals theinner dynamics of the complex relationships and interactions between objects(silver beakers and roofed tankards) and subjects (Romanian Roma) andinvestigates how these relationships and interactions contribute to theconstruction, materialization, and reformulation of social, economic, andpolitical identities, boundaries, and differences. It also discusses how, after1989, the political transformation in Romania led to the emergence of a new,post-socialist consumer sensitivity among the Gabor Roma, and how this sensitivityreshaped the pre-regime-change patterns, meanings, and value preferences ofprestige consumption.
Reviews:„In this wonderful book, Péter Berta extends an anthropological tradition,with its roots in Malinowski, that reads circulating objects as generating bothpolitics and status, exemplified by a keen look at the poignant situation ofthe Roma and a brilliant object-centered ethnography of the painful journey ofpost-socialist societies such as Romania.”Arjun Appadurai, Department of Media, Culture, andCommunication, New York University
„[Materializing Difference] is a detailed and determined account ofthe social life of antique silver objects among Romanian Roma. As part of thenew generation of material culture scholars, Berta follows the pathways andsignificance of second-hand silver beakers and tankards as prestige objectsthat intersect the political rivalries, prestige, and personal relations ofGabor Roma. It is a fascinating story, where an ethnic population fashions itsown prestige system out of materials that have considerably less value on theEuropean antiques market, but imbue these materials with their own historiesand significance in a system of partially restricted circulation. (…) Bertaeschews a simple big picture and attends to the complexity of the politicallives and agency of prestige objects and their ownership histories. Berta’sknowledge of the diverging literatures of material culture and consumptionstudies combines with an extraordinary explication of Roma consumer taste andthinking about these objects, the collectors and markets through which theycirculate, and the fluidity of these relationships. For those who want to seehow to put theory to the test of research, Berta provides an exemplary case.”(An excerpt from the Foreword.)Fred R. Myers, Department of Anthropology, New YorkUniversity
„Materializing Difference is an ethnographic fulfillment of argumentsmade by Susan Stewart in her classic On Longing. More, it updatesthose arguments relevant to the ways that identities are sustainedtoday by the affective commitment to crafted objects. Whereethnography goes, and what it can argue, depends more than ever on a noticingand a sustained attentiveness to more than nostalgic attachments to craftedthings that track in unsuspected ways what sustains lives in motion, onmargins. George E. Marcus, Department of Anthropology,University of California, Irvine
For further reviews, please see: https://www.peterberta2019.com/books or https://utorontopress.com/ca/materializing-difference-4
Table of contents:Introduction: Translocal Communities of Practice and Multi-SitedEthnographies
Part I. Negotiating and Materializing Difference andBelonging1. Symbolic Arenas and Trophies of the Politics of Difference2. The Gabors’ Prestige Economy: A Translocal, Ethnicized, Informal,and Gendered Consumer Subculture3. From Antiques to Prestige Objects: De- and Re-contextualizingCommodities from the European Antiques Market4. Creating Symbolic and Material Patina5. The Politics of Brokerage: Bazaar-Style Trade and Risk Management6. Political Face-Work and Transcultural Bricolage/Hybridity: PrestigeObjects in Political Discourse
Part II. Contesting Consumer Subcultures: InterethnicTrade, Fake Authenticity, and Classification Struggles7. Gabor Roma, Cărhar Roma, and the European Antiques Market:Contesting Consumer Subcultures8. Interethnic Trade of Prestige Objects9. Constructing, Commodifying, and Consuming Fake Authenticity10. The Politics of Consumption: Classification Struggles, MoralCriticism, and Stereotyping
Part III. Multi-Sited Commodity Ethnographies11. Things-In-Motion: Methodological Fetishism, Multi-Sitedness, and theBiographical Method12. Prestige Objects, Marriage Politics, and the Manipulation of NominalAuthenticity: The Biography of a Beaker, 2000-200713. Proprietary Contest, Business Ethics, and Conflict Management: TheBiography of a Roofed Tankard, 1992-2012
Conclusion: The Post-Socialist Consumer Revolution and the ShiftingMeanings of Prestige Goods
NotesReferencesIndexColour plates follow page 174

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