Romani Studies

Ethnicisation of value–the value of ethnicity: The prestige-item economy as a performance of ethnic identity among the Gabors of Transylvania (Rumania)

Romani Studies (2007), 17, (1), 31–65.

Abstract

The study analyzes some of the ideologies and practices related to the silver beakers and tankards which are defined as highly valued prestige items by a Romani ethnic subgroup (known as Gabors) living in Transylvania, Rumania. After describing some features of the Gabors's prestige-item economy, the article demonstrates that for the members of this ethnic subgroup these items constitute the elite register of consumption concerning material culture. The second half of the study pays special attention to the processes and cultural logic of value construction and attribution concerning these objects, with special attention to their ideal mode of existence (i.e. the prestige item as an inalienable symbol of patrilineage identity), and their main socio-economic functions. Finally, it argues that these items are ethnicised goods and that the passion for collecting and possessing them can be interpreted as a special way of representation/ performance of ethnic identity.

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Berta, Peter