Paper $10.50 ISBN: 9789053563151 Published June 1998 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada

Gypsies, Wars and Other Instances of the Wild

Civilization and its Discontents in a Serbian Town

Mattijs van de Port

Gypsies, Wars and Other Instances of the Wild
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Mattijs van de Port

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

350 pages | 6-1/2 x 9-1/2 | © 1998
Paper $10.50 ISBN: 9789053563151 Published June 1998 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
What does civilization mean to the inhabitants of a Serbian town after yet another bloody war on the Balkan Peninsula? How was it possible that people who had been friends and neighbors for so long ended up killing each other? And how do they deal with this barbarity in the post-war period?

The figure of the gypsy, who often appears in Serbian popular culture, has always been invested with the mysterious power to unveil the mendacious undertones in the program of civilization. Wherever he appears - in jokes, songs, tales, literature, or movies - the civilized order is unmasked. This motif can be seen most dramatically in bars and taverns, where gypsy musicians lead their Serbian customers in veritable celebrations of unreason. "This is real," Serbs say about these gatherings where the canons of propriety and civilized behavior are overthrown with obvious relish. "This is life."

The author, who spent several months in Serbia investigating these wild meetings, relates the 'unreason' of the behaviour in these bars to the atrocities committed during the war which broke out during his stay. Highlighting how the program of civilization brings with it the need to construct an image of humankind more compatible with the lessons of history, Gypsies, Wars and Other Instances of the Wild may be read as a case-study of how war-infested societies cope with wartime traumas.

List of Illustrations
  Cultural refuges
  Unusual advances
  How is this possible?
  War and festivity: celebrations of unreason
  Reasearch in wartime
  Chaos and the academic passion for tidying up
  The world in stories
Part I, Reality as it is told
1. Fini Ljudi A Balkan Bourgeosie
  And if it doesn't come naturally, just pretend...
  City in the making, city folk in the making
  Urban primitives
  Who we are and who we no longer are
     Folk dance
     Trubo-folk music
  Other stories about the same world
2. Borderland, Warzone
  The return of the wild man
  A Strict foreman from the West
  Refugees, Grenzer, peasants and other wild men
  Notions of Serbhood and romantic nationalism among the Habsburg Serbs
  Main lines of development in the civilisation debate
  Novi Sad: the reality as it is told
Part II, Beyond the world in stories
3. Lessons from the Refom School of War
  On the sense and nonsense of stories
  Towards an account of the damage war can cause to stories
     The recurrent war
     The large-scale war
     The total war
     The desecrative war
     The shameless, importunate war
     The cruel war
     The unspeakable war
  The silence of the victims...
  ...and the words of the propagandists and historians
     Tito's lovely war
     Glorious defeat
  Truts and other lies
Part III, Imaginary worlds
4.  On Mud and Gypsies, or On People and the World as They Simply Are
  Analogy: the world at war and the world of the Gypsies
  Snapshots from an imaginary Gypsy world
     How we had to flee
     How we lost everything time and again
     How we were thrown under the ice
     How we were victimised
     How we had nothing
     How we suffered
     How we beat the cold
     How we beat hunger
     How no one can keep the people of teh Balkans down
  The Gypsies as guardians of implicit social knowledge
  Discuising and revealing: the mixture of the worlds of self and other in the Gypsy neighbourhood
     Vision 1: the film director
     Vision 2: the ethnographer
     Vision 3: my discussion partners
  Disguising and revealing: the distrubingly strange
  Disguising and reavealing: the collective fantasies about eh cigansko carstvo
     One more time: fusion
  Anti-structural tendencies in the fantasies about Gypsies
     Nothing is what it seems
     Everything is what it is and not another thing
  Play frames
  They thought up a world and they called it a living world
5.   Kafana
  Mimetic play
  In the Gypsy's skin
     Power and dependence
     The unspeakable character of reality
  Opting for the unreason of the Gypsy bar
Conclusions: The Embrace of Unreason
  Reasons for the irrationality in Novi Sad
  Beyond the stories
  Final remarks
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