Balanced or negative reciprocity. Thinking/remembering, seeing dreams, and collecting money among the Sinti in northern Italy

By Élisabeth Tauber


This paper discusses how the Sinti in the Italian Alps perceive their “doing” as complementary to the ideas, values, and practices of work and waged labor of mainstream society. I discuss the invisible and silent creation of the Sinti’s ontological grids through thinking, remembering, and seeing dreams, which allows them to balance what they perceive as relational nets with their Gağe customers when out to collect money. The paper contributes to the broader discussion on concepts of work, begging, and peddling, shifting the focus from an opposition between Romani societies and mainstream societies to the Sinti epistemology of thinking about the world relationally, understanding it as an extended exchange reciprocal system to which Gağe customers also belong.


  • concepts of work
  • mnemonic practices
  • relatedness
  • reciprocity
  • seeing dreams
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