Romani Studies

Czech and Slovak Romani on the path abroad: Migration and human personality

Romani Studies (2018), 28, (1), 79–108.

Abstract

Migration is an important catalyst for personal and community change. This text deals with the self-presentation of Romani migrants from the Czech and Slovak Republics to countries of Western Europe and further overseas. In the introduction, I briefly contextualize the issue of migration from Central Europe and characterize the actors as a settled population, i.e. as subject to the same migration laws as the majority population of the mentioned states. I then go on to explain my theoretical approach, which is based on an understanding that not all attributes of human personality can easily be transferred across state borders. I apply this notion to Roma migration and show, on the basis of empirical examples, which attributes of their personalities Roma leave behind in their original home, what they transfer abroad, and what they remake in a new environment. The text deals particularly with questions of physical bodies, property, knowledge, skills, statuses, memories, social and cultural capital, familial and relational networks, and a collective sense of belonging. Migration is understood here as a physical movement which also allows Romani families to act on their statuses, and social and cultural capital.

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Uherek, Zdeněk