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Course, academic year 2023/2024
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Anthropological approaches to the study of Roma in CEE - JSB581
Title: Anthropological approaches to the study of Roma in CEE
Guaranteed by: Department of Sociology (23-KS)
Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences
Actual: from 2022
Semester: winter
E-Credits: 6
Examination process: winter s.:combined
Hours per week, examination: winter s.:1/1, Ex [HT]
Capacity: unknown / unknown (25)
Min. number of students: unlimited
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
State of the course: cancelled
Language: English
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: doc. Mgr. Jakub Grygar, Ph.D.
Class: Courses for incoming students
Examination dates   Schedule   Noticeboard   
The tumultuous fate of European Roma and Gypsy groups during the 20th century has seen their culture and very existence as a people challenged. Despite being subjected to intense assimilation policies and persecution, they regularly re-emerge with a remarkable revitalizing power. Who are then the Roma and Gypsies, what does it mean from their point of view? As a people without a state and the largest European minority they are the epitome of cultural diversity across borders and time. In this course, we will learn about the historical social adaptations of Roma and Gypsy groups in Europe and the United states and then we will focus on Central European Roma. The course will draw on the latest research on topics such as Romani European migration, memory building, political mobilization, survival strategies, segregation and racism, Romani women activism or youth movement. The course newly adopts a field-trip component that will complement the lecture and seminar sessions. We will visit a contested memory site of Nazi persecution and participate at a commemoration ritual; we will travel to a Roma ghetto and study the contours of spatial segregation and its politics; we will attend a performance of the “theater of the oppressed” and discuss with Roma actors how theatric language helps them express their aspirations etc. This course will challenge mono-causal explanations of Romani society and culture and will stimulate students to think about Roma in a critical holistic way that brings into consideration the societies they live in. Building on a diverse selection of empirical material, ranging from ethnographic, historical and sociological case studies to film and art, the course will present the Roma “as good to think with” about contemporary societies.
Last update: Abu Ghosh Yasar, Mgr., Ph.D. (30.09.2020)
Aim of the course


·                Examine historical underpinnings of social marginalization in CEE.

·                Develop a substantive knowledge on the history and anthropology of European Roma.

·                Apply theoretical approaches to contemporary Roma issues in Europe.


Last update: Abu Ghosh Yasar, Mgr., Ph.D. (30.09.2020)
Requirements to the exam


Course Requirements

Class Participation

The course will evolve around a lecture on a given topic and an ensuing discussion. As a way to familiarize with the on-going debates, controversies and stories surrounding Czech Roma we will at the beginning of every seminar discuss current events. This should help us escape the “scholarly fallacy” and be alert to on-the-ground tensions, stereotypes, political agendas etc. You may come up with your own articles you happen to come across; nonetheless we will be regularly consulting Roma run information website as our shared pool of information. You can focus on various kinds of information, cultural or political (or other).

Assignment 1 – Final paper

The main component of your assessment is the final paper. This is a research paper based on required readings or fieldwork and your own desk research. Oral presentations of your topics for final papers will take place during week 7 where you will receive feedback from both the course instructor and students. During week 8 you will have to submit a written outline of your final paper (800 words) and receive commentaries and further suggestions from the instructor within two days. The deadline for the final paper is TBC. The length of the final paper is 3000-3500 words.

Final Paper Assessment:

•            Clear articulation of the main theses or argument

•            Outline of your paper structure

•            Clarity in presenting others’ work, selection & use of references

•            Critique and/elaboration on other related literature

•            Conclusion

•            Outline compatibility (degree to which paper follows approved / suggested outline)

•            Legibility



Assignment 2 – Reading presentation

The seminar session will proceed with a student presentation of assigned readings. As assigned reading should be considered those listed under “Reading” for Wednesday sessions. The syllabus contains also references to other texts used in the lectures. These are not mandatory but highly suggested to those interested in a given topic. Feel free to get creative about your presentation; however, you should at least present the readings’ main points (20minutes), provide discussion questions for the class (2-3 questions), and organize and run the discussion (20 minutes). You can choose the dates of your two presentations in a table provided by the instructor online.


Grading of Assignments

The grade for this course will be determined according to the following formula:



% of Final Grade

Final paper







Last update: Abu Ghosh Yasar, Mgr., Ph.D. (30.09.2020)




Why to study Roma/Gypsies? Overview of main shifts in the history of Romani studies.


Stewart, M. 2013. Roma and Gypsy Ethnicity as a Subject of Anthropological Inquiry. Annual Review of Anthropology: 415-432.




Unpacking the ‘Indic origin’ theory and other Orientalisms


Willems, W. 1998. Ethnicity as a Death Trap. In Gypsies and Other Itinerant Groups: A Socio-Historical Approach (L. Lucassen, W. Willems, A. Cottaar eds.)

Matras, Y. 2004. The Role of Language in Mystifying and De-Mystifying Gypsy Identity. In Saul, N. Tebbutt, S. Eds. The Role of the Romanies, pp. 53-78.


Okely, J. (1983). Historical categories and representations. In The Traveller-Gypsies (Changing Culture Series, pp. 1-27). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Ethnicity and diaspora in debates on Roma identity


Silverman, C. 2020. Ethnicity Unbound: Conundrums of Culture in Representations of Roma. In The Roma and their struggle for Identity in Contemporary Europe.


P. Gay y Blasco. 2002.  Gypsy/Roma Diasporas. A Comparative Perspective.  




Comprehending Roma from the Rom point of view


Stewart, M. 1997. We are all brothers here, pp. 50-72. In Time of the Gypsies. Boulder, Oxford: Westview Press.


Gay y Blasco, P. 1999. A Divided Neighborhood: The Problem of Gitano Shared Identity. In Gypsies in Madrid, pp. 39-60.





Performing identity: screening of „Across the tracks“ and discussion




Cultivating marginality and the economies of survival


S. Day et al. 2000. Consider the Lilies of the Field. In Lilies of the Field, pp. 1-24.

Tauber, E. 2008. Do you remember the time we went begging and selling?... In Romani/Gypsy Cultures in New Perspectives. J. Ries, J. Fabian eds.


F. Ferrari. 2015. Deceit and Efficacy Fortune Telling among the Calon Gypsies in São Paulo, Brazil. In Gypsy Economy.




The „Gypsy question“ during socialism + Presentations of final paper topics


Donert, C. 2010. Creating ‘Citizens of Gypsy Origin’. Ethnicity, Planning and Population Control in Socialist Czechoslovakia. In Ch. Brenner, M. Schulze Wessel (eds). Zukunftsvorstellungen und staatliche Planung im Sozialismus, Munich: Oldenbourg (pp. 89-114).

Stewart, M. 1997. Making Workers Out of Gypsies. In Time of the Gypsies, pp. 97-111.



Gendered perspectives


Tomasovic. E. 2011.  Robbed of Reproductive Justice: The Necessity of a Global Initiative to Provide Redress to Roma Women Coercively Sterilized in Eastern Europe. Columbia Human Rights Law Review 41: 765 -823.


Kóczé, A. 2009. The Limits of Rights-based Discourse in Romani Women’s Activism: The gender dimension in Romani politics. In Contemporary Romani Politics in Europe: recognition, mobilization and participation, ed. N. Trehan and F. Sigona, London: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2009. pp. 135-159.




Transnationality, migration and mobility.


Grill, J. 2012. ‘Going up to England’: Exploring mobilities among Roma from Eastern Slovakia. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 38: 1-19.

De Genova, N. 2018. The Securitization of Roma Mobilities and the Re-bordering of Europe. In The Securitization of the Roma in Europe. van Baar, H., Ivasiuc, A., Kreide, R. (Eds.)




The Romany political movement in contemporary Europe.


McGarry, A. 2014. Roma as a political identity: Exploring representations of Roma in Europe. Ethnicities 14(6) 756–774.


H. Van Baar, P. Vermeersch. Limits of operational representations. Intersections 3(4): 120-139.



Nazi persecution of Roma


G. Margalit. 2000. The Uniqueness of the Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies, Romani Studies 2: 185-210.


Lewy, G. 2000. Conclusion: The Course of Persecution Assessed. In The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies, pp. 218-228.


Hancock, I. 2004. Romanies and the Holocaust: A Re-evaluation and Overview. In The Historiography of the Holocaust, ed. D. Stone. Palgrave MacMillan: NY, pp. 383-396.


Last update: Abu Ghosh Yasar, Mgr., Ph.D. (30.09.2020)
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