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This panel explores the practices and meanings that underpin marriage processes among Roma populations. We invite papers that take Roma marital practices as their unit of analysis, and explore how alliance-making processes contribute to Roma social organisation across times and places.
Once a ubiquitous anthropological preoccupation, marriage has faded away from recent disciplinary thinking (but seems to be returning with the ongoing research project 'A Global Anthropology of Transforming Marriage' led by Janet Carsten), and has been subsumed under various other rubrics: sexualities, bodies, or affect. However, marriage continues to be an essentially political process, that speaks both to affects and cosmologies, and to social organisation and reproduction. This is especially salient in societies that attach ritual elaboration to the institution of marriage, such as Romani populations, against the dislocation of matrimonial rituals and strategies in broader society.
Whether because they are concluded by arrangement, and/or conducted between minors, sometimes taking the form of intermarriage, or because of the wealth displayed at weddings, Roma marriages remain as controversial as they are misunderstood. This panel takes Roma alliance-making as a heuristic device through which to rethink what marriage means to people in different societies, and how it brings together and separates individuals, communities, and the state. We invite ethnographic papers that take Roma marital practices as their unit of analysis, and tackle conceptually and comparatively issues central to Romani studies and beyond, such as temporalities, autonomy of persons and egalitarianism, semiotics of gender, and the reproduction of communities among populations that push for their assimilation. We explore how marriage processes contribute to Roma social organisation across times and places, by teasing out meanings, practices, economic and political processes that shape Roma marriages and what these convey about the world at large.