Constructing Identities over Time

“Bad Gypsies” and “Good Roma” in Russia and Hungary
$65.00 / €55.00 / £47.00
Publication date: 
November 2021, 230 pages

Jekatyerina Dunajeva explores how two dominant stereotypes—“bad Gypsies” and “good Roma”—took hold in formal and informal educational institutions in Russia and Hungary. She shows that over centuries “Gypsies” came to be associated with criminality, lack of education, and backwardness. The second notion, of proud, empowered, and educated “Roma,” is a more recent development.

By identifying five historical phases—pre-modern, early-modern, early and “ripe” communism, and neomodern nation-building—the book captures crucial legacies that deepen social divisions and normalize the constructed group images. The analysis of the state-managed Roma identity project in the brief korenizatsija program for the integration of non-Russian nationalities into the Soviet civil service in the 1920s is particularly revealing, while the critique of contemporary endeavors is a valuable resource for policy makers and civic activists alike.

The top-down view is complemented with the bottom-up attention to everyday Roma voices. Personal stories reveal how identities operate in daily life, as Dunajeva brings out hidden narratives and subaltern discourse. Her handling of fieldwork and self-reflexivity is a model of sensitive research with vulnerable groups.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Ethnic Labels and Identities
Hungary and Russia: A Comparison of Roma
Chapter 2: Methodology and fieldwork
Field sites
Notes on Methodology
Positionality and Self-Reflexivity
Chapter 3: State, Nation and Identity
State and Nation Building: Nationalism or Multiculturalism?
Managing and Ordering the Population: Schools and the State
Ethnic Labels and Identities
Chapter 4: Nation and State Building--'Bad Gypsies' in Historical Perspective
Early State Building: Normalizing 'Bad Gypsies'
Early Nation Building: Homogenizing 'Bad Gypsies'
Modernizing "Backwardness"
Chapter 5: Nation Building and National Self-Determination after World War I
Nativization: 1920s and 30s USSR
Hungary after the Treaty of Trianon
Chapter 6: State Socialism (1945-1989)
Assimilationist Campaigns
Legacies of Socialism
Chapter 7: 'Bad Gypsies'—Boundaries of Belonging and Negotiation of Identities in Primary Schools
Strong State with a Strong Nation: Neo-Modern State Building and Nationalizing States
Schools and 'Bad Gypsies'
In Classrooms: Disciplining and Constructing 'Bad Gypsies'
Who to Blame?
Chapter 8: 'Good Roma'—Reconsidering Boundaries of Belonging and the Role of Pro-Roma Civil Society
Categories and Meanings: Pro-Roma Civil Society's Roots, Goals, and Tools
Making 'Good Roma' out of 'Bad Gypsies' through Education
Outcomes and Limitations of Pro-Roma Projects
Chapter 9: Transborder Roma Nation – EU and the Soviet efforts in comparison
Transborder nation building
Nested Identities
Future of the Movement
Chapter 10: Identity in the Making
Being a 'Gypsy'...
Essentialized and Homogeneous Ethnic Identities
Where Does Education Take Roma?
Empowering from the Top: From Hopelessness to Kinship
How to achieve equality?
Chapter 11: Conclusion
Best Practices
Empowerment of Communities and Moving Forward
Suggestions and Concluding Remarks

Appendix A: Fieldwork - Household Statistical Data
Appendix B: Fieldwork - Interview and Survey Questions