Romani Studies

Within or Outside? Perceptions of self and other among Rom groups in Romania and Norway

Romani Studies (2011), 21, (2), 123–144.

Abstract

We present a comparative analysis of the relationship between Roma and non-Roma in two different contexts: a group of Norwegian Roma in Oslo and a group of Romanian Roma in a village in Transylvania. The theoretical inspiration for this analysis is Baumann and Gingrich's 'Cultural Grammars of Selfing and Othering'. The main objective of the article is to challenge the traditionally held idea of Roma as 'outside' society and instead to claim that they depend on their local environment. While the local Rom group in Transylvania is dependent for their subsistence on exchange with peasants and villagers in their rural community, the Rom group in Norway are made clients of the welfare state and are dependent on welfare agencies for their basic subsistence. The locally dependent Transylvanian Roma have developed a grammar of encompassment, seeing themselves and the non-Roma as 'really the same', while the more socially segregated Norwegian Rom group have developed an orientalist grammar, despising Norwegian society and at the same time idealizing and copying the lifestyle of rich Norwegians.

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Author details

Engebrigtsen, Ada