Was There a ‘Gypsy Problem’ in Socialist Romania? From Suppressing ‘Nationalism’ to Recognition of a National Minority

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After the fall of the socialist bloc some authors celebrated the advent of Romani nationalism, emphasising its Eastern European roots and its potential force to foster emancipation among an ethnic minority oppressed for so long. There is another perspective on the community organisation among the Roma from actors who had much less sympathy towards collective claims on behalf of the ‘Gypsies’. Recently published documents from the archive of the secret police testify that Gypsy nationalism (“naționalism țigănesc”) was systematically denounced in Romania. Roma leaders suspected of being its proponents were persecuted during the late period of the Ceaușescu era. This article is an attempt to interpret a contested category in the context of late socialist Romania.

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