Transcontinental Logic of Ethno-Racial Identities


Despite the centuries-long presence of Roma in America and Africa, scholarship remains methodologically Eurocentric. Romani identities are commonly treated in isolation from global connections that shape how Roma view themselves and are viewed relative to other ethno-racial communities. The project seeks to focus on the Lusophone Atlantic contact zone and to investigate Romani identity within comparative, transnational, and intercultural frameworks. It recasts Roma from “the largest European minority” to a pan-Atlantic diaspora shaped by the processes and relationships that structure the globalised world. In so doing, the project will advance our understanding of the relational nature of identity formation and social classifications.

The project has three objectives:

  1. To document the social position of Romanies across the multi-racial, multicultural, and politically stratified realm of the Portuguese-speaking Atlantic.
  2. To analyse the ways through which “Gypsy” difference – social place, attributes, and spheres of action ascribed to Romanies – has been established and changed in relation to other communities and other racial projects.
  3. To conceptualise the relational nature of categorisation, classification, and marking of human difference: how do movement (of people, objects, ideas) and novel encounters reshape existing racial formations and spaces of mutual recognition?

To generate insights into how different racial contexts impact Romani belonging and interethnic interactions, the team is conducting ethnographic and archival research in the South Atlantic and examining Romani social position in relation to other ethno-racial projects. The project’s establishment and the work of the research team is funded by the Lumina Quaeruntur award of the Czech Academy of Sciences. It is led by Martin Fotta as a principal investigator and consists of Tina Magazzini (senior researcher and postdoctoral fellow) and Anna Clara Viana (junior researcher and doctoral student). The research team is supported by Mária Málková, a project manager and grant specialist at the Institute of Ethnology.