Roma labelling: policy and academia

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For centuries in different countries of Central, South-eastern and Eastern Europe groups of people have lived who are all called by their surrounding population with different appellations, which is usually translated into English as “Gypsies”. In the last quarter of a century, instead of these names, a new common designation has been established in the region’s public discourse, based on their self-appellation “Roma”. The processes of labelling and imposition of the new name on these communities did not stop in this region, and the label “Roma” is increasingly spreading in the remaining parts of Europe and even beyond. This process of imposing “from above” of a “politically correct” labelling, however, has led to, for some perhaps unexpectedly, to others predictably, an impact on the field. Some local communities labelled today “Roma” started to demonstrate publicly their reluctance to comply with the designation imposed on them from the “outside”.
The proposed article will reveal the historical sources of labelling of these communities and main dimensions of these contradictory processes. More generally the article will pose the question on the necessity for change in the relationship between academia on the one hand and the political ideology on the other. In other words, the question is about the main task and responsibility of academia – is it about examining the reality and bringing new knowledge, or presenting the reality according pre-defined norms?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-418
Number of pages34
JournalSlovensky narodopis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2018


  • Roma
  • Gypsy
  • Labelling
  • Policy
  • Academia


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