'Your Heart Is Not Warm Unless You Steal!'

Constructions of Theft and Stealing

in Anthropological Journal of European Cultures
Ada I. Engebrigtsen Nova Institute ada.i.engebrigtsen@nova.hioa.no

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A proverb common in Romania, generally referring to gypsies, claims that 'your heart is not warm unless you steel'. During the author's fieldwork in a village in Transylvania it was, obvious, however, that the moral judgement on theft and stealing varies greatly according to context. The article discusses the social construction of theft in different empirical contexts and historical periods from wartime looting in India to theft of state property in Romania and how the definition and judgement in each case are embedded in social relations and social structures. The article's main objective is to unmask social relations of power and domination that are often hidden behind definitions and judgements concerning the acquisition of the property of others. Thus theft cannot be understood as either legal or moral; instead, it ties together the moral and the legal, the collective and the individual, objects and persons in different ways in different contexts.

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Anthropological Journal of European Cultures

(formerly: Anthropological Yearbook of European Cultures)


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