Romani Studies

Evangelical Gypsies in Bulgaria: Way of life and performance of identity

Romani Studies (2007), 17, (2), 205–246.

Abstract

The Evangelical conversion of Gypsy groups worldwide has attracted the attention of ethnologists, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, historians and sociologists. The problems discussed in the literature are connected with the influence of the 'new' religion on the way of life and identity of the converts. What are the changes that the believers undergo in their everyday lives? How do they celebrate holidays and festive occasions like weddings? What is happening with the group and the religious and ethnic self-awareness of individuals? Does Evangelism lead to a kind of unification of the culture of separate Gypsy groups, which in turn results in the loss of part of the identity of the communities? Bulgaria is an interesting example of the spread of Evangelical Christianity among Gypsy groups, much intensified since 1990. The article addresses these questions, looking for concrete exemplification at the situation of the Evangelical Gypsies in Bulgaria, and it traces the process from the early twentieth century down to the present, exploring some of the major changes in the way of life of the Gypsies after undergoing evangelical baptism, using their own ideas and concepts of the surrounding world.

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Slavkova, Magdalena