Constructing Identities over Time

“Bad Gypsies” and “Good Roma” in Russia and Hungary
$65.00 / €55.00 / £47.00
PDF version is available in open access thanks to the libraries supporting CEU Press’s Opening the Future initiative.
December 2021, 238 pages, 4 tables, 17 figures

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.


Part I. Introduction

Chapter 1: Author's Purpose
Personal Note
Roma and Romani Studies
Notes on Methodology
Structure and Subject of the Book

Chapter 2: Theories and Concepts—State, Nation, and Identity
Homogenization Efforts during State and Nation Building
Managing the Population and Classifying Identities
Comparative and Historical Study
Roma in Hungary and Russia throughout Time

Part II. Bad Gypsies and Good Roma in Historical Perspective

Chapter 3: Early Nation and State Building in Empires
Early State and Nation Building: Control over the “Other”
Enduring “Backwardness”
Chapter 4: The End of Empires
The End of Empires: World War One and the 1917 Revolution
Soviet Nativization Policies in the 1920s and ’30s
Hungary after the Treaty of Trianon
A Note on the Holocaust
Chapter 5: State Socialism (1945–1989)
Assimilationist Campaigns
Political Education in State-Socialist Schools
Categorization of Roma: Legacies of Socialist Identity Politics and Critical Voices

Part III. Contemporary Identity Formation

Chapter 6: Fieldwork
Fieldwork and Positionality
Ethnography: Ethics, Reflexivity, and Positionality
Chapter 7: "Bad Gypsies"—Negotiation of Identities in Primary Schools

Neo-Modern State Building: National Revival and Patriotic Youth
'Bad Gypsies' in Segregated Schools
Disciplining 'Bad Gypsies' in Classrooms
Reproducing and Contesting Stereotypes
Chapter 8: Making Good Roma from Bad Gypsies
Contemporary Antigypsyism
Pro-Roma Civil Society’s Roots, Goals, and Projects
Negotiation of Identity and Non-state Actors
Chapter 9: Negotiating Identity
Identity Struggles
Identity and Belonging
Kinship and Community

Part IV. Concluding Remarks

Chapter 10: Summary and Best Practices