The New Political Discourse of Roma Activism: The International Romani Movement and the Language of National Self-Determination

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:55
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Nadezhda GEORGIEVA-STANKOVA, Trakia University, Bulgaria
Language and discourse are basic tools in political interaction, mobilization and legitimisation of social positions. The paper discusses language and discourse as key actors in the politicisation of Romani ethnogenesis and in the construction of Romani nationhood. The main research questions focus on the new political language that the International Romani Movement (IRM) is seeking to forge, the alternative frames it can provide and its unifying potential in serving as the basis for collective national identity. Some of the functions of this new political discourse are viewed as necessary for creating a sense of homogeneity, devising strategies for interaction and self-reflexivity or providing collective coping mechanisms against internal divisions or external threats, such as racism, discrimination and right-wing populism. Analysis involves decisions regarding the choice of language for different audiences at various levels of communication: the grassroots level, the language of Roma activism, the language targeting gadje (non-Roma audiences), relations with the state or interactions at the supranational level. Answers are sought to ways old and new values and traditions should be reflected and embodied in the language of Romani ethnonationalism, or in dealing appropriately with taboo and sensitive issues in Romani culture. The research applies political discourse analysis in selected texts from Roma policy documents, media publications, public speeches and interviews. Conclusions are made on the choice of power relations Roma resolve to engage in and contest, the means and strategies for achieving legitimacy through language and discourse, as well as important aspects of national self-determination, such as choosing between the languages of victimhood or citizenship.