Citizens of Gypsy Origin : the Roma in the reconstruction of Czechoslovakia, 1948-1989
Title: Citizens of Gypsy Origin : the Roma in the reconstruction of Czechoslovakia, 1948-1989
Author: DONERT, Celia
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2008
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
The term ‘citizen of gypsy origin’ [občan cikánského původu] came into use in Czechoslovakia after the Communist coup of February 1948 and was jettisoned almost as abruptly after the collapse of the socialist regime in 1989. Introduced as a replacement for the derogatory label, Gypsy [cikán], the ‘citizen of gypsy origin’ echoed the better-known term, ‘citizen of Jewish origin.’ Swiftly acquiring a pejorative undertone, the term was never fully absorbed into everyday speech. To a contemporary audience in the Czech or Slovak Republic, the ‘citizen of Gypsy origin’ is unthinkable outside a pair of inverted commas. It reverberates with the formalistic official discourse of scientific socialism or, in the words of the pseudonymous dissident Petr Fidelius, ‘the language of Communist power,’ which after thirty years of socialist rule had become so divorced from the ideals it claimed to represent that it seemed an empty carapace, a mere chain of signifiers lacking a referent. Almost immediately after the collapse of communism the Roma were recognised as a nationality in Czechoslovakia, having been defined only as an ‘ethnic group’ until 1989, and so in retrospect the ‘citizen of Gypsy origin’ seems implicated in a policy of coercive assimilation. At the same time, however, the ‘citizen of Gypsy origin’ was part of a much broader history: the struggle between states and societies over the meaning of citizenship under state socialism in East Central Europe after 1945.
LC Subject Heading: Romanies -- Europe; Czechoslovakia -- History
Defence date: 10 October 2008; Examining Board: Prof. Victoria de Grazia (EUI/Columbia University)-supervisor ; Prof. Michael Stewart (University College London) ; Prof. Eagle Glassheim (University of British Columbia) ; Prof. Philipp Ther (European University Institute)
Published version: http://hdl.handle.net/1814/58044
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