Nomadic Bodies: From Their Intermittent Invisibility to Their Permanent Persistence—The Story of a Nomadic Cigano/Roma Family in Its Transit through Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal in (Post)Pandemic Times
1.1. About the Study Case
1.2. About Cigano/Roma Studies in Portugal
2. Material and Methods
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. “We Are Here, Tomorrow We Don’t Know, but We Always Are Present…”
“It was easier because Roberto would fight with the police or whoever to be able to stay in one place. He grew up on the street from a very young age and knows how things work. Being a woman, it’s a little bit more difficult. Look, I have character, but the police don’t care. If we are in a place where others can see us, they come and treat us good, but if we are in the field alone, they come to treat us badly.”
“We do anything, we know how to do everything and if we don’t know, we learn it; we need to eat, we travel many kilometers in search of food, if we have to go to Spain, come on, even if it takes us days to arrive. I remember that when Roberto was still alive, we walked from Beja to Évora to work with the olives. It was two days of walking to get there and get to work and then walk back again. It’s not true that we don’t want to work…”
“Many times, it seems that we do not exist, because today we are here, tomorrow we do not know, but we are always there. If you look at the roads or the open places you always find a family of Cigano/Roma in the cars or camping. We are many. It seems that we do not exist, but if we are alive, we are alive for them. (While pointing to the little ones)”
“You know the police saw that Antonio was burned near the eye, while he and his brother were crying because they were so scared. Things like that we must endure that people often run us like dogs from the places where we are. From that point we started to go alone, and the children stayed here with my mom and Catarina.”
“I am worried because they send the appointments by mail and text message. We have a phone that we can hardly charge the battery off and the address where I receive mail is of a lady in Beja, but walking from here to there, I do not know how I am going to do that. I hope I don’t miss the appointment. I do not know. Sometimes I feel that the doctors do not understand how we live. This doctor who attended me in the emergency told me: “we need to contact you, you will lose your appointment like this; don’t you have another way to be contacted?” and I thought, this man thinks that we love to live the way we live, that we can lose our appointments because of it. The most interested in having medical care is me, I feel bad.”
“We do not have a special practice. We try to ask as a family to God that the baby is born healthy, and that his/her mother stays healthy as well. We attend gospels, but we haven’t been to church for quite some time. When we can, we light candles and ask. When I had my children my mom, an aunt and Margarida helped a lot. But you saw it for yourself, here we are many hands, there are always people who can hold the baby, even the children can help.”
3.2. Between the Ups and Downs, There Are Bodies
“(…) I really don’t know what to think anymore, I didn’t want to waste time explaining to the doctor how we live, telling him that we don’t have a bathroom, that we don’t have a roof. I don’t know what the doctor imagines, I don’t care either, but at one point he told me: how did I come to have my mouth this way and I told him, we live under tarps. He just kept quiet and told me he couldn’t do anything if Antonio couldn’t do a prolonged dental treatment. At that point I told him, where do you want me to get the treatment?”
“Can you help us to have a house, it can even be a piece of land, where people can stay. Or try to see if you can help us to rent a house, because nobody wants to rent us anything. Maybe you know someone here and you can talk about how we are good people, we are many, they can rest assured. I’m tired of walking around from here to there, I don’t have the strength to move anymore. This on top of the headaches, having to deal with doctors who always try to find reasons to let me know what to change. They kind of let me know that I waste my time going to the emergency room every time I can’t get over the pain.”
“Being a nomadic, living on the street, having been exiled, having refugee status, having been a victim of rape during a war, being an emigrant without a fixed place of residence or being an illegal immigrant are not metaphors. As some critics of nomadic subjectivity teach us, lacking a passport or possessing too many is not equivalent or merely metaphorical, they are geopolitical and historical locations, extremely specific; in other words, stories tattooed on bodies.”(p. 15)
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
It should be noted that the nomadic Roma families that are registered (and there are very few) is thanks to the goodwill of citizens who provide the management of their homes so that they can make the income to social security to obtain family subscriptions, what the Portuguese State calls, Abode of suitability. On top of that, much of it cannot access social housing because, in the case of Évora, the Habévora regulations 2021 Specifies, in the article 9, which People must have a minimum of 2 years living permanently in the place and with a registration verifiable. In the case of Montemor-o-Novo there is no current legislation on social housing No discussion about it. Families with children and adolescents enrolled in school can camp only during the school period, in the moments of recess, they are thrown out by the Police who respond directly to the orders of the Municipal Chamber. It should be noted that They are families living in conditions of extreme poverty and segregation social.
All the proper names of the family that will be read throughout this work were altered to keep the identity under protection.
The place where this family camps is a strategic point, since, at 200 m About National Route 2 A turner is located public water that was taken out during three weeks in the first confinement by the municipality, but then at the request of the neighbors it was put to work again.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNsG5wDWmhw (accessed on 1 December 2022)
Also Words of Fernando Moital, a tireless activist who worked for 25 years with nomadic Roma families and who, has a very large photographic archive of these families. Some of these photographs will be used in this paper.
A village 22 km from Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal.
Photographs taken by Fernando Moital (Coletivo Solidário com as Compulsively Nomadic Families).
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Nievas, A.D.V. Nomadic Bodies: From Their Intermittent Invisibility to Their Permanent Persistence—The Story of a Nomadic Cigano/Roma Family in Its Transit through Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal in (Post)Pandemic Times. Soc. Sci. 2023, 12, 196. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12040196
Nievas ADV. Nomadic Bodies: From Their Intermittent Invisibility to Their Permanent Persistence—The Story of a Nomadic Cigano/Roma Family in Its Transit through Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal in (Post)Pandemic Times. Social Sciences. 2023; 12(4):196. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12040196Chicago/Turabian Style
Nievas, Agostina Del Valle. 2023. "Nomadic Bodies: From Their Intermittent Invisibility to Their Permanent Persistence—The Story of a Nomadic Cigano/Roma Family in Its Transit through Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal in (Post)Pandemic Times" Social Sciences 12, no. 4: 196. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12040196