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"With us roma": the narrative engagement and social knowledge of two Czech Romani women

Beranek, N.; (2011) "With us roma": the narrative engagement and social knowledge of two Czech Romani women. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores the question of how Romani social life proceeds in a small town in the Czech Republic. It pays particular attention to the ways in which ethnicity becomes salient during interactions between Roma and Czechs. The ethnography is based upon an extended narrative engagement with two Romani women. In their narratives, a chronicle of their past, present and future lives is presented. Despite the fact that my interlocutors are dissimilar in age, level of personal autonomy and financial security, within their narratives is the expression of a local Romani narrative about ethnic relations, love, friendship and family. It is firmly situated within academic- and media-based discussions about the post-communist ‘experience’ of Czech Roma and their widely shared communist past. This thesis therefore takes into consideration the ways in which Romani individuals make sense of their social worlds through their creation of narratives. In Skála, idealized Romani sociality is composed of various threads: the authenticity of one’s moral agency, the maintenance of a cohesive family unit, a sense of cooperation and harmony with Romani non-kin, dedication to the perpetuation of a collective Romani mentality standing apart from the Czech population, and a symbiotic existence with Czechs based upon daily interaction. Throughout my interlocutors’ narratives, these components of social life are cognitively assigned to the communist era rather than the present-day. Within these women’s narratives, there is evidence of the primacy of the family as both a functional and a conceptual entity of Romani social life past and present. Today, the investment of material resources and emotional energy into one’s children is seen as the most viable means by which one may enact their personal agency as mothers within the private sphere.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:"With us roma": the narrative engagement and social knowledge of two Czech Romani women
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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