Two Win Gypsy Lore Society Young Scholars’ Prize in Romani Studies

Post date: Jan 30, 2011 12:17:37 AM

The screening committee of the Gypsy Lore Society Young Scholar’s Prize in Romani Studies has announced two winners of the prize for 2011. The winners are Natasha Beranek for “‘To Everyone You Will Always be a Dirty Cigánka:’ Romani Women’s Agency and Their Cultural Navigation of the ‘Ethnic Trap’,” and Annemarie Sorescu-Marinković for “The Gypsy Court of the Bayash: Revising Typology.” Beranek, a social anthropologist, was awarded the PhD in 2011 by University College London. She is a research affiliate in the Department of Anthropology at the same institution. Sorescu-Marinković, who received her PhD in 2010 from Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, is an ethnographer and a researcher at the Institute of Balkan Studies, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade.

The committee also recognized two papers with honorable mentions, “The Turkish Gypsies in Dobrudzha,” by Yelis Erolova; and “‘A magyarok az ókorba élnek tetszik tudni, mindig az ókorba.’ Az idegentapasztalat történeti genealógiája egy határ menti településen/ ‘The Hungarians Live in the Ancient Times, You Know, Always in the Ancient Times’: The Historical Genealogy of Foreigner Experience in a Frontier Village,” by Sándor Borbély. Erolova, who was awarded the PhD in 2009 by the Ethnographic Institute and Museum of, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, is an ethnologist and researcher at the Balkan Ethnology Department, Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies and Ethnographic Museum-BAS, Sofia. Borbély is a cultural anthropologist and a PhD student in the Graduate School of Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Debrecen, Hungary.

The Gypsy Lore Society established the Gypsy Lore Society Young Scholar’s Prize in Romani Studies for the best unpublished paper by a young scholar on a topic in Gypsy and Traveler Studies. The prize is a cash award of $500. The winning papers will be published, after any necessary revisions, in an issue of the journal Romani Studies. Papers written in English by undergraduate students, graduate students beyond their first year of study and those holding the Ph. who are no more than three years beyond the awarding of the degree at the time of submission are eligible to compete. The prize is now known as the Marian Madison Gypsy Lore Society Young Scholars’ Prize in Romani Studies.

The deadline for receipt of papers for the current cycle is October 30, 2012. A full announcement was published in the November 2011 issue of the Newsletter and on the Gypsy Lore Society web site,

Abstracts of the Prize Papers

Natasha Beranek. “To Everyone You Will Always be a Dirty Cigánka:” Romani Women’s Agency and Their Cultural Navigation of the “Ethnic Trap.” This paper explores the means by which two Romani women in a small Czech town strive to enact their personal agency on a daily basis. In the first section, I introduce my informants, give a portrait of the local social context in which my interlocutors’ individual narratives about their families and their relations with Roma and Czechs before and after 1989 are produced, and provide an overview of this paper's main theoretical arguments about narrative and ethnicity. Next, through the presentation of their narratives about various aspects of Romani sociality, I consider the particular ways in which ethnicity becomes salient between Romani and Czech individuals and how this has an influence on my interlocutors' agency. In the last section, I propose different avenues by which these women are able to remain committed to cultural values whose realization is a seemingly psychologically unrewarding process. This paper argues that while both Romani women are in consensus over the validity of specific cultural ideas, in the process of enacting their individual agency, they consent to the legitimacy of these ideas in different ways as a result of their dissimilar life circumstances.

Annemarie Sorescu-Marinković. The Gypsy Court of the Bayash: Revising Typology. In this paper, we try to revise the widely spread idea that all groups who have a Gypsy Court speak Romani, using the example of the remembrance of this institution and certain elements that are still present among the Bayash of Hungary, Western Serbia and Northern Croatia, while in the latter case the Gypsy Court still functions today. We base our study on recent ethnological and anthropological field research that we carried out in the region of Medjimurje (Croatia) in 2006 and in the region of Bačka (Serbia) in 2011, on interviews and written accounts of the Bayash from Hungary, as well as on extensive field research among the Bayash and Rudari in Serbia and Bulgaria, conducted in the past five years, which proved that they do not recall the existence of such an institution. Additionally, we bring forth an older Romanian ethnographic account of the rudiments of the juridical system of the Rudari from southern Romania, which apparently went unnoticed by researchers trying to clarify the mechanisms behind the existence or preservation of this institution among different Gypsy groups. Reflecting on Marushiakova’s and Popov’s typology regarding the Gypsy groups with and without a Gypsy Court, we demonstrate that the thesis according to which the Gypsy Court is practiced only by speakers of Romani is not sustained in the case of the Bayash.

More on the Marion Madison Gypsy Lore Society Young Scholars' Prize in Romani Studies.