Visions of Esmeralda Lock: Epistemic Injustice, ‘The Gypsy Woman’, and Gypsilorism

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Published Sep 12, 2023


Using a combination of Jodie Matthews’ concepts of “The Gypsy Woman” as a product of successive trans-historical encounters (actual, literary, or visual) between Gypsy subject and non-Gypsy audience, formal Archival sources in the Scott MacFie Gypsy Collection at the University of Liverpool, Foucaultian archives of subjugated knowledges, and Miranda Fricker’s approaches to epistemic injustices, this article examines the life-narrative of a Romani woman, Esmeralda Lock, and her changing relationship with her Gypsilorist interlocutors over 70 years of her life. Following the example of Laura Ann Stoler, “factual stories” in Esmeralda’s life that re-affirm Gypsilorist fictions are also examined. Esmeralda was unique in that she was literate, and hence able to leave a small but important trail of correspondence spanning 62 years (including a hitherto unknown sketch and commentary) enabling a challenge to Gypsilorist (mis)representations of her life. Her correspondence also allows her changing epistemic value of Gypsilorists to be traced. Further analyses of epistemic injustices may offer new dimensions to understanding and explaining not just the construction of subordinating discourses, but also the mechanisms of Romani epistemic suppression.

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Lee, K. (2023). Visions of Esmeralda Lock: Epistemic Injustice, ‘The Gypsy Woman’, and Gypsilorism. Critical Romani Studies, 5(1), 4–28.
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Archive, Epistemic injustice, Esmeralda Lock, Gypsilorism, 'The Gypsy Woman'