Pre-arranged Panel Proposals Calls for Papers

Roma/Gypsy Churches (Renewalist and other religious movements among Roma) as
religious, social and cultural innovation

Panel convenor: Tatiana Zachar Podolinská, Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology Slovak Academy

Abstract of the panel content and purpose:

By all accounts, Pentecostalism and related Charismatic movements (so called Renewalist
movements) represent one of the fastest-growing segments of global Christianity. These
movements approached Roma in Europe already at the beginning of the 20 th century, but the
rapid growth is observed especially in the last few decades. This Panel would like to consider
the phenomenon of “Roma/Gypsy Churches” in broader perspective. When considering the
mission among Roma in dynamic perspective, we should pay attention also to societies and
churches that originated as non-Pentecostal, Baptist, for example, and then become
Pentecostal or Apostolic Christian Church. There are Roma churches accepting baptism in the
Holy Spirit, but they are not of Pentecostal background. We should also keep in mind that in
some geographic regions, where the Pentecostal Church is perceived already as traditional for
the majority, the Gypsies may seek alternative religious societies in which to participate. In
addition, Renewalism or Pentecostalism, although they are considered to be a sort of general
umbrella terms, have very different local socially and culturally rooted understandings and

Despite its importance and growing public visibility and actorship, there are only few
qualitative and no comparative studies on the religious, political and civic views of Roma
involved in these groups, not to speak about ‘softer’ characteristics of the impact of religious
change on the life trajectories and everyday strategies of a considerable part of the Roma
believers affiliated in Roma/Gypsy Churches currently living or moving across the Globe.
The existing research suggests that the “Renewalist type of conversion” may serve as a
vehicle of social and cultural innovation among Roma. This hypothesis, however, needs to be
elaborated and tested from the comparative and dynamic perspective on the transnational
level. The aim of the panel is to bring some new perspectives into the current research and
open discussion on religious movements among Roma as (1) religious, (2) social and (3)
cultural innovation. Besides the summarizing the state of-the-art the Panel should bring some
innovative perspectives and should come out of qualitative researches focused on (for
example): (a) concept of ‘New Roma’ (rejection of and reference to ‘Old Roma’ within the
trans-social, trans-ethnic and trans-national pastoral discourse and its operationalization in
converts´ narratives, (b) conversion and its relation to vertical and horizontal social mobility,
(c) architecture of social networks and forms of social capital; (d) conversion and its relation
to spatial mobility (migration and re-migration) of Roma, etc.

As the panel convenors, we would like to cordially invite anyone interested in this research
area to contribute to our prearranged GLS 2019 panel. When considering, please beware the
original deadline for abstract submissions is a close one, the 28th of February, 2019.

With any queries regarding the panel, feel free to contact the main convenor. If you would
like to contribute, please send the title of your contribution to the convenor of the Panel

Note that all panel speakers should individually submit paper proposal abstracts (max 250
words including references) indicating the name of the pre-arranged panel in which they
participate by the February 28, 2019 to the address