Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Michigan

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2011
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Michigan
Roma Integration and Institutional Practices with Roma in Postsocialist Hungary

How do racial ideologies and perceptions of ethnic distinction mediate everyday practices in postsocialist institutions? Does it make a difference when staff members have undertaken specialized cultural training, and if so, how? And what do institutional actors’ conceptions of cultural competent practice and their evaluation of cultural distinction ultimately reveal about how they understand the social integration of minorities? These are the key research questions I will study through a year of ethnographic research in four distinct institutional environments in Hungary where ethnic Magyars and ethnic Roma (or “Gypsies”) interact: a university “Gypsy Studies” department, a Roma community-based organization, summer camps for Roma youth, and a city police department. In these interrelated Hungarian institutions, I will investigate the beliefs these institutional actors have about Roma, where these ideas come from, and how they influence day-to-day practices with Romani persons. I will first trace the production of knowledge about Roma in an academic environment, namely the field of Romology. I will then follow the ways that exposure to such knowledge might shape the work of professionals (police officers, teachers, and social workers) who encounter Roma in their daily professional lives. I will interview and shadow in their professional work both Roma and non-Roma, both those who have had special cultural competence training and those who have not. By observing institutional interactions with Roma and discussing these interactions with the relevant institutional actors, I will elucidate the ways their knowledge and beliefs about Roma shape their institutional practices with Romani people – and the ways formal training may influence these practices.