Romani Studies

Approaching preferred identity: ‘Serbian Gypsies’ in post-war Kosovo

Romani Studies (2017), 27, (2), 147–172.

Abstract

The article examines the processes of approaching preferred identity of the ‘Serbian Gypsies’ community in post-war Kosovo. The ‘Serbian Gypsies’ declare themselves as Serbs and have Serbian names and surnames. They are Orthodox Christians and speak Serbian within the community. Their practice of customs and way of life are also similar to those of the Serbs, according to descriptions received from the Serbs. To varying degrees, the Serbs within their community dispute their acquired ethnic identity, continuing to ascribe to them the identity of ‘Gypsies’. Depending on the individual views of members of the Serbian community, they are placed both as intra-ethnic and inter-ethnic others, or “betwixt and between” these categories. The boundary between these two communities is an ambiguous zone of negotiation. In a post-war context of radically changed ethnic and social circumstances, the Serbs, now finding themselves in the minority enclave situation, are gradually beginning to accept this group, which is working on remodelling its identity and becoming assimilated. The identity of the ‘Serbian Gypsies’ is still in the process of being shaped and re-shaped and limited by being categorised by the group, where they hope to become members.

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Zlatanović, Sanja