Accepted Paper:

Challenging romology as anthropological engagement  


Alenka Spreizer (University of Primorska - Faculty of Humanities)

Paper short abstract:

Anthropologists understand engagement widely and differently. This paper is focused on engagement for accurate and informed transmission of anthropological knowledge in the case of Roms in Slovenia.

Paper long abstract:

Many scholars who had been studying Roma were more or less involved in challenging differing knowledge and misrepresentations of Romologists. This commitment was not the case in Slovenia until recently. During her fieldwork, the author confronted the misrepresentative knowledge of Slovenian Romology. It is the fact that Romani studies as a newly developing field of academic knowledge is still marginal. On the one hand, only a few scholars have started to challenge stereotypical images of Romanies recently and have explored the critical texts. On the other hand, scholars were less informed about contemporary ethnographic studies of Roma. The author argues that the marginalisation of this field made possible the re-invention of archaic theorisation by scholars on Roma, and the vigorous reproduction of the chauvinist and racist discourses on e.g. Romani "race", culture and religion on the other. The author shows the consequences for Romologists themselves. They are vulnerable to reproducing pseudo-scientific discourses of Roma peoples. Furthermore, the anthropologist reveals how this state of the art is reflected in the legal and governance system which regulates the minority policy. This paper describes and analyzes the author's engagement in presenting informed and accurate contemporary anthropological studies of and with Roma to different publics in Slovenia. Ethnography is urgently needed which is focused on events and engagement with accurate and informed transmission of anthropological knowledge. If not, scholars risk reproducing or at least contributing to current scientific racism in social science and the humanities.

Panel W044
Anthropology and engagement