CEES West Coast Seminars, 18th Series - 16 November 2011

Published: 4 November 2011

Cerasela Voiculescu: 'The Historical Politics and Geography of Roma Leadership in Socialist and Post-Socialist Romania'

Cerasela Voiculescu (Sociology, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh)
The Historical Politics and Geography of Roma Leadership in Socialist and Post-Socialist Romania 
5.00pm (tea and coffee) for 5.30, CEES Seminar Room, 8 Lilybank Gardens

In Romania, both the socialist and post-socialist state attempted to integrate the pre-existent social structures of Roma leadership within their mechanisms of control and population management. Authoritarian, centralized structures have sourced authoritarian forms of leadership aiming at the Gypsies’ submission to the state power. However, negotiation has always existed. In post-socialism, the EU and national state policies, tentative ways of governing various Roma groups encouraged the development of new forms of shared and negotiated leadership. All these different structures of governance and control imposed by the state have either enhanced or reduced the Gypsy leaders’ power and control over their communities. The main goal of my research paper is to understand how the imposed state definitions of Roma leadership have challenged the informal organization of the local Gypsy representatives. The political leadership is explored through individual and collective ways of relating to recent historical transformations of power which have brought various positionalities and meanings among Romanian Roma communities. Leadership bridges central and structural powers to the local ones, and it is a reflection of the historical relations between individuals who experience alternative positionalities within overlapping spaces of practice and control. In this context, my paper is an inquiry into the process of distribution and development of power relations between Roma leaders, local communities and state actors, a process of historical relationships of power with its alternative meanings in the making.


The organisers of the West Coast series are grateful for the financial support provided by the University of Glasgow MacFie Bequest 

First published: 4 November 2011