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Politics of difference: Child marriage and prestige consumption among the Romanian Gabor Roma – with a special focus on the post-socialist transformation


The project focuses on the practices and ideologies of the politics of difference (in Ŕomani language: Ŕomani politika ‘Roma politics’) characteristic of the Gabor Roma living in Romania. Roma politics is a tournament of value serving to construct, represent and manipulate social and economic differences. The prestige relations between Gabor Roma individuals and families are primarily defined on the basis of the results achieved in the ethnicized, symbolic arenas of Roma politics. The project pays special attention to two of these symbolic arenas: prestige consumption and marriage politics based on child marriage. It reveals that in order to obtain a deeper and more context-sensitive understanding of the social relations and interactions in Roma groups it is necessary to simultaneously investigate the politics of difference and the ethics of sociability, and how they impact each other. One of the central questions of this multi-disciplinary research is how the post-socialist transformation has affected these symbolic arenas and the pre-revolution Gabor Roma concept of social success.

Today, child marriage within Roma groups is a social problem found throughout Europe. (See the statement of the European Parliament published in March 2013: Since Gabor Roma—referring to their own cultural autonomy—insist on child marriage, which is prohibited under EU regulations, a complex conflict of law and value has evolved. The research—which can be defined as a type of cultural brokerage—can significantly contribute to a detailed understanding of this symbolic conflict between Roma customary law and EU laws, as well as possible solutions. In this way, the research findings will be useful not only for anthropologists, but also for European policy-makers concerned with the regulation of marriage and the protection of women and children’s rights in the European Union.

Call for proposal

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UCL Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women’s Health
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 309 235,20
Administrative Contact
Giles Machell (Mr.)