An armchair study of a field study in ethno-pornography

Educating Germans about racism is like training dogs to be vegan, so this post is in English, although the original article was in German.

I recently found an anthology published 61 years after the purported discrediting of scientific racism: Binder et al.: Berliner Blätter 39/2006: “Europäische Roma – Roma in Europa” by the Society for Ethnography (GfE in German) of Berlin’s prestigious Humboldt University. I would like to scandalize not that Germans publish racist propaganda again – they never stopped – but that it passes as science.

The author claims to study the influence of Pentecostalism on the middle and lower classes of Roma (whom he refers to by the pejorative “Zigeuner”, because THEY use it too) people in a small Romanian village, where he spent some months. Although an analysis of the invasion of WASP missionaries into former socialist countries and class conflicts within an oppressed group – THEY are always presented as monoliths – sounds interesting, the writer produces nothing from his field study, except for a reinforcement of his Schwaben prejudice.

But instead of turning away in dignified horror, let’s look how this author crafts liberal workhouse ethic and classical Nazi Übermensch theory into a whip against the “lazy poor” [comments/interpretations in square brackets]:

“Despite the many studies about the economic sphere of the gypsy culture, only few tsiganologists have dealt with the economic ethic [or “laziness”] of the gypsies. A [positive] exception are ethnologists who decode an economic and work ethic within the gypsy culture, which forms a stark contrast to the work complex of European modernity.” [So “gypsies” are “lazy” and enemies of progress. “Europe” means progress and jobs for all. Ethnologists should study Rroma only to find out why they’re so lazy.]

“They [the Rroma] prefer informal work relationships, which can be cancelled or modified at any time.” [THEY want to be unemployed.]

“The gypsies understand a fair, balanced reciprocal exchange as ‘robbery and swindle’ against their birthright to asymmetrical trade.” [THEY are born with the “privilege” of being street hustlers.]

“The Roma – according to Stewart – have no problem living as ‘parasites’ of the majority population, because they live at the expense of a society that rejects and excludes them.” [So yes, there is discrimination, but THEY are still parasites. Society pays for THEM.]

“For the Corturari [wealthy Rroma artisans], I can confirm the findings of the ethnologists: They too endeavor to make something out of nothing. Beggary and free-riding are sources of income where the Corturari play asymmetrical trade to the extreme and refuse any reciprocity.” [If THEY ever make it out of poverty, it’s just by stealing even more!]

[And finally the purpose of his study, his “policy recommendation”:]
“Through the Schengen agreement, the Corturari need ‘only’ 500 euro to revive their ancient nomadic practices [The “ancient nomadic practice” of mass expulsion is the only “progress” modern capitalism can offer.] of at three-month intervals and travel to Italy, France, Spain and other rich EU countries. There they roam about as traders, many route euros won through beggary and illegal work [How can you work without legal protection and be lazy at the same time?] back to Romania. Sometimes the Corturari can rely on networks that span the entire continent [World conspiracy!!!]. You hear that some Corturari even work as human traffickers and smuggle Romanians and gypsies to Europe. The new opportunities offered by Europeanization [Select careers such as selling homeless newspapers in front of organic supermarkets.] further support the Corturari in their nature as born middlemen, who profit from transactions between gazos and gazos [Indeed, the 19% sales tax goes straight to THEM!!!].”

So the “asymmetry” is not created by the Western armies, but by the “hordes of paupers.” Not Western companies are “proliferating,” but the people who can’t afford to buy their products. Maybe if we killed all the poor people, only rich people would remain, and their ultra-qualified productive forces would save the world economy!

Such hate speech offers no useful information on how to improve the lives of poor people, but kick-starts many academic careers. This genre deserves the name of ethno-pornography for its glorification of oppression. As in pornography, the details captured by such ethno-pornographers are superficial, the characters portrayed are predictable, even if the production effort can be pharaonic; the only interesting questions are: Who suffers, who watches, who profits?

It hardly surprised me to read that the author now seems to work for a consulting firm. As a “private person,” he resides near the Green capital of Germany, Stuttgart, and spends his free time “on mountains, in art exhibits or at good concerts.”


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One response to “An armchair study of a field study in ethno-pornography”

  1. IceyGuy says :


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