Silenced voices and speaking up: A case study of Romani people in Europe

(1) * Diana P. Petkova Mail (Sofia University, Bulgaria)
*corresponding author


This paper presents the perceptions of silence in two Romani (Gipsy) cultures in Europe – Bulgaria and Finland. On the basis of field studies and two in-depth interviews, conducted in the towns of Mikkeli (Finland) and Ihtiman (Bulgaria), it outlines the attitudes of the European Roma people towards “being marginalised” and “silenced”. Silence is perceived by them in terms of “being different” and “being sometimes ashamed”. In the Romani culture there is a special relationship between “silence”, “pride” and “shame” as a specific worldview and a mechanism of constructing of both the personal and the collective ethnic identities. The paper also studies the phenomenon of self-silencing as a strategy of coping with undesirable situations that seem to disturb the mental wellbeing of two individuals. It underlines the need for raising the awareness of education within the Roma community in Europe and concludes that it is necessary to differentiate between “cultural” and “non-cultural” practices in the educational system.


silence; silence voice; pride; shame



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