2022, Volume 4


Marian Zăloagă, Scientific Researcher, Ph.D., “Gheorghe Şincai” Institute of Socio-Human Research of the Romanian Academy

The 1990s and the early 2000s was a period of revitalization of the Romani studies in Romania. Participants in the process were non-Roma as well as Roma authors. The religious practices and the affiliations of the Romanies was regarded to be a significant matter to start building a dignified profile of the ethnic group from the perspective of the in – group members who ventured to participate in knowledge production. If a first generation of Roma intellectuals were more concerned to find corelations and provide explanations in a more or less essentialized fashion, the analysis of the scientific literature authored by a young generation of the in-group members indicate a certain tendency to over-politicize the topic of religiosity and the religious affiliation of the Romanian Romanies. In the process, the Romanian Orthodox Church has
been turned into a target. Specifically, the acknowledgment that the dominating religious actor from Romania took part in the perpetuation of the state of slavery of the Romanies makes the Romanian Orthodoxy vulnerable to a series of recent public attacks. This inglorious past is used to symbolically and rhetorically justify the ongoing reaffiliation of the Romanies to neoProtestant churches. Recognizably, the politicization of the religious affiliation of the minority group was started by a first generation of Romanian Roma intellectuals and the young generation only intensified their attacks. If one considers the in-group knowledge production in a comparative manner, one can realize that a first generation of Romanian Roma intellectuals found it reasonable to accommodate the Romanipen to the religious background dominating in Romania, while a young generation has chosen to overtly and loudly confront the national hegemon religious institution. This is the main
trend, but, as I will demonstrate it is not at all a unique approach to the religiosity of the Romanies as undertook by in-group voices. Some Romanian Roma authors have preferred to re-write back to their ethnic and generational peers and to take side with the Romanian Orthodox Church. In their research, the Romanies end up being blamed by a mendacious relation to the religious institution to which the majority Romanian population has been affiliating for centuries. At the same time, the neo-Protestant churches are suspected to act superficially and their missionary work among the Roma communities could be indirectly suggested to represent the convenient meeting ground between
two religious scammers. In the present paper I discuss to what extent the new generation of Romanian Roma intellectuals have considered suitable to weaponize the knowledge production on this specific matter and outline the political stakes behind the arguments employed to carry this symbolical and rhetorical battle between in-group narratives.

Keywords: Romanian Roma intellectuals; religious practices; religious affiliations; identity politics; knowledge production

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/amsh-2022-0025

Pages: 129-162

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