Accepted Paper:

Articulations of power: Rom life struggles beyond resistance  

Author:

Ada Ingrid Engebrigtsen (NOVA)

Paper short abstract:

Based on empirical data the paper will discuss the relations of power in terms of the strategic situation of most Rom groups in most nation states. The paper will question the assumption of Roma as an oppressed ethnic minority and discuss why ethnicity is not, and can not be a strategy for most Rom groups to secure their way of living.

Paper long abstract:

The object of this paper is to discuss the relations of power in terms of "the strategic situation" of most Rom groups in most Nation states, and how this strategic situation is lived. Based on empirical data from Rom groups in Norway and Romania the paper will question the assumption of Roma as an oppressed ethnic minority. Data suggest that ethnicity is not and can not be a strategy for most Rom gypsies to secure their way of living. Basic Rom Gypsy claims to support their way of life would be illegitimate in the ethnicity/nationality "game". Ethnicity, seen as a political strategy for equal opportunities, is based on negotiations with governments about legitimate differences. Ethnicity discourse thus confirms the nation state as superior and the ethnic group as an aspiring, different and equal, nation. Rom gypsies reject this ideology. To understand their position one must understand their historical relations to majority populations, to governments and their current mode of subsistence. Nomadism as an analytical term, grasps the strategic situation of the Rom gypsies in Europe in ways that can challenge simple understandings of national and ethnic groups and of power relations between them.

Panel W116
Beyond identity: new directions in the anthropology of Roma/Gypsy groups