Traveller theology: a theological anthropology of the UK’s gypsies and travellers

Prof Doc Thesis

Horne, S. 2020. Traveller theology: a theological anthropology of the UK’s gypsies and travellers. Prof Doc Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Humanites
AuthorsHorne, S.
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosphy

The aim of this thesis is to identify and thread cultural strands (beliefs and customs, narratives and histories, and rituals and traditions) from Gypsy and Traveller culture into a coherent theology. The researcher’s hypothesis is that the most effective method in which one can truly and fully access Gypsy and Traveller culture and community is via the ‘vehicle’ of Christianity and Christian theological interpretation. The original contribution to knowledge is a theological interpretation of Gypsy and Traveller practices, beliefs, and communities in the UK. This introduces the secondary aim of the thesis, which is to contribute to the field of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma (GRT) studies, an area typically dominated by social-science approaches.

The thesis engages both the historical and present-day context, critically examining and addressing relevant themes in GRT studies and specific theological literature. In addition, field research conducted in various parts of the UK enables the examination of cultural tropes, including ‘Purity’, ‘Sin’, ‘Nomadism’, ‘Space’ and ‘Time’. From these multiple streams, a hermeneutic is developed that forensically reveals original data. This data includes foundational theological elements of: a ‘Mosaic’ camp analogy; a Traveller Christology; and a Traveller eschatology.

The thesis is both ethnographic and theological in nature, with the researcher being uniquely placed, having familial ties with the Traveller/Gypsy community. To accommodate these approaches and the participation of the researcher, this thesis employs a mixed method approach, consisting of both Autoethnographic and Black Liberation theology methodologies. Theologically and theoretically the thesis is both a demonstration and an act of Constructive Liberation theology, so, namely a ‘critical reflection on praxis… worked out in light of the Word’ (Gutiérrez, 1973).

KeywordsGypsy and traveller culture; Cultural strands
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Deposited25 Nov 2020
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