Kanjar - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Where each tent is an independent economic unit, families usually form temporary alliances with other tents forming a dēra. Dēra typically consist of two to four tents with a balance among skilled performers and jhula (carnival rides). While economic considerations are always a mediating factor, most dēra include tents involved in engagement or marriage negotiations.

Political Organization. While females tend to dominate, both tents and dēra are acephalous. Decisions affecting the group are reached through consensus, deference wisely being paid to older and/or more experienced individuals.

Social Control. Kanjar recognize that the independence of tents and freedom ( azadi ) to move are the most important forms of social control. Tents unwilling to abide with dēra consensus are encouraged to or simply move away in order to avoid serious conflict or violence. Among Kanjar, loss of mobility is loss of social control.

Conflict. Tension and disputes arise from bickering Between spouses or entertainers working together about share and distribution of earnings, adultery or excessive sexual joking, disagreements about travel routes and tenure in an area, and bride-price negotiations, as well as individual transgressions such as drunkenness, excessive abuse, theft, physical attacks, serious injury, and murder. When group pressure and negotiated compromises fail, Kanjar have a formal legal System for hearing and resolving serious disputes. Since they lack institutions or formal roles for enforcing group sanctions, settlement of disputes ultimately devolves on the conflicting parties, their families, and their allies.

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