The Politics and Complexity of Silence in the Marginalised Lives of Young Gypsy/Traveller Women in Scotland

Marcus, G. (2017) The Politics and Complexity of Silence in the Marginalised Lives of Young Gypsy/Traveller Women in Scotland. 5th European Conference on Politics and Gender (ECPG), Lausanne, Switzerland, 8-10 Jun 2017.

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'It is typical for societies to have discourses about minorities in which the minorities themselves are hardly ever heard' (Schröter, 2013: 4). In this paper, I critically explore the complexity of silence as it ‘operates in diverse ways’, ever changing and dynamic (Ferguson, 2003: 49). Drawing on the work of several key theorists (Ferguson, 2003; Trepagnier, 2006; Lawson-Billings, 2009; Mirza, 2015), I highlight the different forms of silence encountered throughout my research, using empirical examples from select literature and interviews with Scottish Gypsy/Traveller girls. Their silences are highlighted and juxtaposed alongside the general problems encountered by Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland and reveal an intricate, convoluted narrative. I also draw attention to what Mirza (2015: 3) describes as the ‘normative absence and pathological presence’ of the ‘Other’. The manipulation of the history and identity of the Gypsy/Traveller in Scottish culture, within some academic texts, policy documents, and administrative data, belies the suppression of alternative knowledge and modes of thinking. The lacuna in the existing literature on Gypsy/Traveller women in particular highlights the complexity of censorship and absence. The difficulties gaining access to information and to participants, are also accentuated and problematised, especially as a woman of colour researcher in the Academy. Using Mirza’s (2015: 1) framework that ‘black British feminism is the postcolonial impulse to chart counter-narratives and memories of racialised and gendered domination’, I highlight the pernicious lack of recognition of the particular, yet diverse, accounts of the experiences of ethnicised Gypsy/Travellers girls, and in particular, their experiences of education in Scottish schools. I discover that silence can be a belittling impediment, but silence can also be golden.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Marcus, Dr Geetha
Authors: Marcus, G.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
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