Interrogating Gypsy diaspora
Paola Toninato (Warwick University)
Paper short abstract:
The diaspora discourse among Gypsies is introduced as part of a transnational project of identity-building. It is characterised as non-territorial, instrumental and intricately linked to forgetting as a strategy of survival, thereby challenging essentialist notions of diaspora.
Paper long abstract:
In recent years, prominent Gypsy intellectuals and political activists have advocated the notion of a Gypsy diaspora in an effort to foster a common Gypsy identity that is able to transcend national, ethnic and cultural boundaries. The paper investigates the extent to which the Gypsy diaspora discourse has been influenced by dominant concepts of diaspora. By comparing a variety of self-representations and accounts of the Gypsies' origins, the paper aims to deconstruct essentialist notions of diaspora. It pays particular attention to ways in which Gypsies construct and re-invent the discourse about their origins in different socio-cultural contexts. It also compares views of non-academic and intellectual Gypsies and their understanding of diaspora.