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ROMA CULTURE IN MUSEUM (Kultura Romów w muzeum)

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(Title in Roma language: E Rromenqeri kultura dr-o muzeum). In the context of museum exposition space the author attempts to define which elements of culture are to be considered specifically Romani. He comes to conclusion that nearly the entire material culture of Roma people as well as major parts of its spiritual and social components have been absorbed from the lower stratum of the surrounding cultures. It is then quite futile to try to isolate some particularly unique complex of objects or cultural features as symptomatic of the Roma. One should regard as Romani, whatever the Roma think of as such. The Roma are in general not interested in Roma related publications, they do not tend to will to educate their children in the Roma language and even the Roma parents do not wish their children to know anything about the Roma. The question hence arises about the attitude the Roma have towards their own ethnic identity. Is it of any importance to them at all? In the past they experienced their identity negatively - as a handicap and the majority of them still feel that way today. Some of the Roma deliberately deny its background and culture, forget their language, ignore traditional customs and choose to assimilate. They are those who gained education and a better social position. Becoming aware of the traits of one's culture is one of the manifestations of ethnic identity but the set of „culture's ethnic traits' is not predefined. The national emancipation of Roma is currently being brought about by the efforts of members of the Roma elite but also by encouragement coming from the general population which consider ethnic identity to be a crucial component of their culture and who demand it from the rest of the society. Here is where the author recognizes serious problems that result from establishing 'ethnic museums' - the Roma ones in this case. This should be accompanied with cautious and sensible cultural policy on national level.
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  • Arne B. Mann, Slovenska academia vied, Ustav etnologie SAV, Klemensova 19, 813 64 Bratislava 1, SLOVAKIA
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