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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:

Tue, 7 May 2019 20:12:34 +0000

Content-Type:

multipart/mixed

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text/plain (127 lines) , Materializing_Difference_Cover.jpg (127 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 humanrelationships, and possess their own social and political agency? What roledoes material culture – such as prestige consumption as well as commodityaesthetics, biographies, and ownership histories – play in the production ofsocial and political identities, differences, and hierarchies? How do(informal) consumer subcultures of collectors organize and manage themselves?Drawing on theories from anthropology and sociology, specifically materialculture, consumption, museum, ethnicity, and post-socialist studies, MaterializingDifference addresses these questions via analysis of the practices andideologies connected to Gabor Roma beakers and roofed tankards made of antiquesilver. The consumer subculture organized around these objects – defined asethnicized and gendered prestige goods by the Gabor Roma living in Romania – isa contemporary, second-hand culture based on patina-oriented consumption.

    MaterializingDifference reveals the inner dynamics of the complexrelationships and interactions between objects (silver beakers and roofedtankards) and subjects (Romanian Roma) and investigates how these relationshipsand interactions contribute to the construction, materialization, andreformulation of social, economic, and political identities, boundaries, anddifferences. It also discusses how, after 1989, the political transformation inRomania led to the emergence of a new, post-socialist consumer sensitivity amongthe Gabor Roma, and how this sensitivity reshaped the pre-regime-changepatterns, meanings, and value preferences of prestige consumption.

 

Reviews:

„In this wonderful book, Péter Bertaextends an anthropological tradition, with its roots in Malinowski, that readscirculating objects as generating both politics and status, exemplified by akeen look at the poignant situation of the Roma and a brilliant object-centeredethnography of the painful journey of post-socialist societies such asRomania.”

Arjun Appadurai, Department of Media, Culture, andCommunication, New York University

 

„[Materializing Difference] isa detailed and determined account of the social life of antique silver objectsamong Romanian Roma. As part of the new generation of material culturescholars, Berta follows the pathways and significance of second-hand silverbeakers and tankards as prestige objects that intersect the politicalrivalries, prestige, and personal relations of Gabor Roma. It is a fascinatingstory, where an ethnic population fashions its own prestige system out ofmaterials that have considerably less value on the European antiques market,but imbue these materials with their own histories and significance in a systemof partially restricted circulation. (…) Berta eschews a simple big picture andattends to the complexity of the political lives and agency of prestige objectsand their ownership histories. Berta’s knowledge of the diverging literaturesof material culture and consumption studies combines with an extraordinaryexplication of Roma consumer taste and thinking about these objects, thecollectors and markets through which they circulate, and the fluidity of theserelationships. For those who want to see how to put theory to the test ofresearch, Berta provides an exemplary case.” (An excerpt from the Foreword.)

Fred R. Myers, Department of Anthropology, New York University

 

„Materializing Difference isan ethnographic fulfillment of arguments made by Susan Stewart in herclassic On Longing. More, it updates those arguments relevant tothe ways that identities are sustained today by the affectivecommitment to crafted objects. Where ethnography goes, and what it can argue,depends more than ever on a noticing and a sustained attentiveness to more thannostalgic attachments to crafted things that track in unsuspectedways what sustains lives in motion, on margins. 

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 ofPractice and Multi-Sited Ethnographies

 

Part I. Negotiating and Materializing Difference andBelonging

1. Symbolic Arenas and Trophies of thePolitics of Difference

2. The Gabors’ Prestige Economy: ATranslocal, Ethnicized, Informal, and Gendered Consumer Subculture

3. From Antiques to Prestige Objects:De- and Re-contextualizing Commodities from the European Antiques Market

4. Creating Symbolic and MaterialPatina

5. The Politics of Brokerage:Bazaar-Style Trade and Risk Management

6. Political Face-Work and TransculturalBricolage/Hybridity: Prestige Objects in Political Discourse

 

Part II. Contesting Consumer Subcultures: InterethnicTrade, Fake Authenticity, and Classification Struggles

7. Gabor Roma, Cărhar Roma, and theEuropean Antiques Market: Contesting Consumer Subcultures

8. Interethnic Trade of PrestigeObjects

9. Constructing, Commodifying, andConsuming Fake Authenticity

10. The Politics of Consumption:Classification Struggles, Moral Criticism, and Stereotyping

 

Part III. Multi-Sited Commodity Ethnographies

11. Things-In-Motion: MethodologicalFetishism, Multi-Sitedness, and the Biographical Method

12. Prestige Objects, Marriage Politics,and the Manipulation of Nominal Authenticity: The Biography of a Beaker, 2000-2007

13. Proprietary Contest, Business Ethics,and Conflict Management: The Biography of a Roofed Tankard, 1992-2012

 

Conclusion: The Post-Socialist ConsumerRevolution and the Shifting Meanings of Prestige Goods

 

Notes

References

Index

Colour plates follow page 174


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