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Roma Identity Strategies in the Context of Economic and Social Changes in a Post-communist Urban Slum

Jaroka, LR; (2012) Roma Identity Strategies in the Context of Economic and Social Changes in a Post-communist Urban Slum. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Drawing on fieldwork data collected in 2000-3, this thesis deals with Roma (Gypsies) living in post-socialist Józsefváros, Budapest in Hungary, a unique, urban setting, where they were a highly visible minority and seen by many, in the area, as culturally dominant. The fall of communism brought economic crisis and mass unemployment that led many to question existing life-strategies. In this context, the thesis deals with two generations of Roma. The older lived through communist attempts at cultural and social assimilation. The second generation lives with the memories and bitterness of what they see as their parents’ failed assimilation. Both generations share the knowledge of the generalised economic and social crisis since 1990 and suspect their former political passivity was bought by the socialist welfare regime. In these contexts, shaped by intergenerational change, the thesis examines different strategies for personal and communal ‘recomposition.’ It considers strategies of passing as well as ‘new ethnicities’. In Józsefváros, in contrast to much of the rest of the country, a dense concentration of Roma produces some advantages for the minority. Calls for Roma unity from majority and Romany politicians, as well as young Roma deciding to abandon the passing and hiding strategies of the previous generation has led to a change in discourses on identity. The Roma discussed here have adopted a conscious, and in parts, a more united - while at the same time a much more spontaneous and often hybrid - Roma identity, than that of their parents. The somewhat contradictory trends towards an individualisation of ethnicity and the creation of a virtual united Roma nation are never entirely held together by the ‘everyday politics’ of life in this district. It is these dynamic processes of ‘ethnic politics’ on the move that form the object of this study.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Roma Identity Strategies in the Context of Economic and Social Changes in a Post-communist Urban Slum
Language: English
Additional information: Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1370646
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