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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic Final Paper

Jana Slavíková 28. 2. 2011

Instructors: Salim Murad, Michal Šimůnek


28. 2. 2011

Jana Slavíková

Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic

Contents 1.

Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 3

2.

Roma in the Czech lands ....................................................................................................... 4

3.

4.

2.1.

The Roma in the Communist era................................................................................... 4

2.2.

Current situation of the Roma in the Czech Republic ................................................... 5

2.3.

Statistical footnote ........................................................................................................ 6

2.4.

Solution of “the Roma issue” ........................................................................................ 6

Visual methods ...................................................................................................................... 7 3.1.

Visual materials ............................................................................................................. 7

3.2.

Inclusion into research .................................................................................................. 7

3.3.

Strengths and weaknesses ............................................................................................ 8

Researching the Roma........................................................................................................... 9 4.1.

Reading photographs .................................................................................................... 9

4.2.

“Romové” .................................................................................................................... 11

4.2.1.

Analysis ................................................................................................................ 12

4.2.2.

General perceptions ............................................................................................ 12

4.1.

“Cikáni”........................................................................................................................ 13

4.1.1.

Analysis ................................................................................................................ 14

4.1.2.

General perceptions ............................................................................................ 15

4.1.

“Cigáni”........................................................................................................................ 16

4.1.1.

Analysis ................................................................................................................ 17

4.1.2.

General perceptions ............................................................................................ 18

5.

Conclusions ......................................................................................................................... 18

6.

References ........................................................................................................................... 19 References to texts on visual methods (general thoughts in this paper) ............................... 20

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28. 2. 2011

Jana Slavíková

Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic

1. Introduction This paper focuses on the Roma in the Czech Republic, because it is an ever topical problem. The Roma are a target of prejudice and accusations, discrimination at schools as well as in employment. Just recently, a piece of news appeared on the internet that several schools should participate in a project introducing the history of the Roma to schools. The online versions of the mainstream newspapers did not pay any attention to it, but a journal called “Parlamentní listy” (Parliamentary Paper) published an article called “Prepare your children for a new subject: The history of the Roma” and the discussion that followed was a long chain of disproval, hatred, nationalism and swearing, which was facilitated by the fact that there was no need to register and one could participate anonymously. Another current opportunity to revive animosities towards the Roma is the upcoming census. I started to doubt the respectability of the Parliamentary Paper when another article on the website had the Roma in the title as well: “We can still manage. We need more Roma.” But it is probably just a very liberal paper and this was a contribution by a right-wing politician to the “Politicians to voters” section. The author was pointing out the fact that a lot of the Roma did not declare “the Roma nationality” in the census of 2001 and put “Czech” instead. He continued to criticize how much budget funds is directed to Roma organizations, and that these are now going to try to persuade the Roma to declare they are Roma in the upcoming census, because the data have serious consequences for obtaining EU funds, funding social programmes, establishing committees for minorities, etc. He concluded that he personally would not actually be interested in the number of the Roma in the Czech Republic, but only in case everybody would be assessed according to the same criteria. I am afraid this approach has got the Czech Republic where it is now. Still, it is not just unregulated online discussions or messages of the right-wing parties where one can observe such feelings. Recently, I attended an academic conference addressing social exclusion and its space manifestations, and even there one could hear similar negativism and scepticism directed towards the Roma. In this paper, I will first sum up some of the information we learned in this module: on the issue of the Roma in the Czech Republic, and on visual methods. Then, I will try to apply the method of visual analysis on a set of pictures portraying the Roma.

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic

2. Roma in the Czech lands “The first record of Roma people in the territories of Central and Eastern Europe ... is in a document dated 1387 [...] in present-day Romania. [...] This implied that the Roma had already been present in Wallachia for a hundred years. References are also made in 1399 in a Chronicle of Bohemia [...] and in court records in Levoca in Slovakia. [...] Under the Empress Maria Theresa and the Emperor Joseph II assimilationist policies ensured that by the end of the 19th century the vast majority of Roma in Czech and Slovak lands were located in fixed settlements.” [16] Even though the Czech lands had historically been an ethnoculturally diverse country, the nation-building in Central Europe was influenced by Herder’s ideology presenting the nation as a culturally and linguistically homogeneous community, and forming the attitudes towards “foreign” elements (the Others) accordingly. Subsequently, World War II and its aftermath contributed to “ethnic cleansing”, in the sense that many Jews and Roma were displaced or killed, and Germans and Hungarians were driven away. Nevertheless, the Romani minority in Slovakia was still quite significant, and after the war, the Roma were first voluntarily and later forcefully transferred to various parts of the Czech lands (to the emptied Sudeten, to cities short of unqualified labour, etc.). Only approximately 500-600 of the pre-war 6000 Roma survived in the Czech lands [16], and most of the current Czech Romani population are of Slovak origin.

2.1. The Roma in the Communist era The Communism influenced the existence of the Romani communities in Czechoslovakia in several ways, following “policies of progressive forced settlement and ‘assimilation’.” In 1958, a law forbid them (and other wanderers) to travel. In 1965, another law ruled that “no town or village should contain more than 5% Roma in its population, necessitating large-scale population transfers of Slovak Gypsies to the Czech Lands.” Romani children started being placed into remedial schools, and in addition, “from 1972 a State-sponsored sterilisation programme was targeted at ‘socially weak’ classes. [...] Romany women were offered up to 25,000 Crowns as an inducement to be sterilised after a second child [... but] many Roma women were sterilised before having any children.” [16] During the communist era, Roma were not recognized as a national minority, it only happened after the Velvet Revolution. “[F]ormal recognition as a ‘national minority’ after 1989 confers a range of cultural, educational and political rights upon Roma as a group.” [16] Still, the collapse of Communism did not bring much improvement to the Roma. On the contrary, their unemployment rose significantly when the state stopped being the guarantor of full employment [17], many of them found themselves in a precarious situation when Czechoslovakia broke up.1

1

More on the history and the identity of Roma in the article “Identita jako jedno z romských traumat” (2007)

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic

2.2. Current situation of the Roma in the Czech Republic Currently, the estimated Romani population is around 300,000, i.e. approx. 3% of the entire population of the Czech Republic. [19] “Roma are often physically distinct from the majority of people of Slav origin – many being significantly darker-skinned – and so form an immediatelynoticeable sizeable minority.” There is a “widely-held negative view of Roma, often expressed in beliefs that they are ‘lazy’, ‘cannot adapt to our society’ and engaged in widespread criminality”; they “are not discriminated against because they are Roma, but because of their ‘bad reputation’ or ‘bad experiences’.” [16] They face discrimination in various areas [16]: • •

employment: “[T]hey face widespread discrimination from employers ... [but] there are no laws to effectively punish them.” housing: “During resettlement form Slovakia in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Roma were often placed in poor accommodation without running water or electricity. ... [T]hey suffer racist prejudice and discrimination from local authorities and neighbours. ... Another trend is to move Romany families out of their existing homes and relocate them to remote poor quality housing.” education: “[T]he number of Romany children being educated in these [remedial] schools [is] at up to 80% of the Roma school-age population [in comparison with 4.5% of all Czech school-age children]. ... Education in these schools is very basic – and current Czech law restricts the further education opportunities (past primary school age) for any pupil attending ‘special schools’ to remedial technical schools offering low-level vocational training. Access to certain employment opportunities are also effectively blocked, since many jobs require a certificate from mainstream high schools.” the legal system: “Roma also face discrimination in the judicial process: ... discriminatory sentencing for petty crimes, entailing long periods in detention. ... [T]he judicial system is failing Roma in the effective prosecution of racially-motivated violence.”

“[I]t is estimated that about two-thirds of the circa 450,000 Roma/Gypsies dwelling in Slovakia reside in “Gypsy settlements” ... [, i.e.] permanent rural residential areas socio-spatially segregated from the dominant non-Roma population, often located several kilometres away from the nearest non-Roma village on which the settlement inhabitants are usually economically dependent. Gypsy settlements often suffer from infrastructural underdevelopment and are often found to be without paved roads and with no access to electricity, gas or sometimes even clean drinking water. ... It is important to note that almost all Gypsies living [in the urban industrialized areas] in the Czech Republic today moved from Slovak Gypsy settlements after World War II. ” [17]

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic

2.3. Statistical footnote In the Czech Republic, there is a difference between citizenship and nationality. While citizenship is a relatively clear category: you either are or are not a citizen of the Czech Republic2, nationality is a category based on one’s choice – one’s declaration. In the census of 1991, 0.3% of the population of the Czech Republic declared Romani nationality, i.e. 32 903 inhabitants; in 2001, it was 0.1% - 11 746 inhabitants. [5] However, 23 thousand respondents stated the Romani language as their mother tongue, and other 13 thousand its combination with Czech. The estimate of the number of the size of the Romani minority in 2001 was 150300 thousand. [4] The results of the 2001 census [5] uncovered the following about the Romani nationality group: • • • •

the biggest share of children in its age structure (30.7%; average = approx. 15%), a small share of persons older than 65 years of age (3.3%; average = approx. 14%) almost 60% single (average = approx. 37%) 65.4% with only basic or no education (average = approx. 23%), only 1.6% with a university degree (average = approx. 8.9%) only about 20% employed (average = approx. 46%), 25% unemployed (average = approx. 5%) – unemployment rate of 57.3% (for Czech nationality = approx. 9.1%)

2.4. Solution of “the Roma issue” To sum up, the Roma face a situation of triple exclusion [1]: • •

socio-economic exclusion (75% unemployment rate, low standards of housing and health, subordinate standard status, a disproportionately high involvement in crime); cultural exclusion (high number of Romani children in “special” = remedial schools, general low education of the Roma, the absence of recognition of their culture in schools or in public); political exclusion (almost complete absence in the political, administrative, and lawenforcement bodies of the state).

The Refugee Council report [16] showed extensive evidence of widespread racism and prejudice against the Roma in the Czech lands. However, it also showed the same xenophobic reaction to the Roma asylum claims by the British media in 1998. Recently, attention was drawn to the expulsions of Roma from France. Therefore, it is not just a problem of the Czech Republic; the entire Europe has to learn how to deal with accepting and integrating them. The problem with the Roma is: •

They have no homeland they could go back to.

2

The law being based on ius sanguinis – “the law of blood” – and not allowing dual citizenship, with very few exceptions.

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic •

They are too geographically dispersed and have lack of cultural resources (“[T]heir language and literary culture in its present state could not serve as the medium for development of a societal culture that would fit the needs of a modern post-industrial society.” [1]) to be given territorial autonomy and self-government.

Barša [1] suggests that “the most realistic way of overcoming their triple exclusion is a policy of integrating them, in a multicultural context, into Czech societal culture.” It is necessary to include them into the civic Czech identity, include their culture into the school curricula3, improve the integration of Romani children into the mainstream schools, include the Roma in the process of political representation, etc. “In the present situation the only realistic policy is the systematic consideration of Roma by the authorities and within political procedures.”

3. Visual methods 3.1. Visual materials Visual methods used in social sciences can include use of various visual materials: photographs, videos, pictures, maps, etc. However, most often it is photography. The researcher can use his or her own photographs, ask the subjects of the research to take them, or work with photographs found. Photographs seem to be a “true”, objective representation of reality, but this presumption can be contested. The “true” picture of reality can be influenced by what is photographed and what is not, by perspective, sharpness, focus, quality, distance, light, colour, size, setting, presentation, context, title, caption, etc. All of that is on the part of the author, but viewers also play an active role: their sight (how well they can see, how they recognize colours), their perception (if they notice what the author intended), their knowledge and experience (how they decipher the message or what they pay attention to based on their previous knowledge and experience).

3.2. Inclusion into research The ways to include photographs (or other visual materials) into one’s research also differ. Some authors choose to use photographs as illustrations of what they describe or analyze in the text. The purpose is either to show the object, person or settings that are being described, or to give a particular example of a general phenomenon. Other researchers might use photographs as a more integral part of their research. By taking photographs, they can record ephemeral moments or situations, entire settings or details of the studied subject that they can return to and analyze later and repeatedly. They can use photos in the presentation of their research, referring the reader or viewer to them in the text, or presenting their findings associated with the photos.

3

It is probably going to be a rather difficult and controversial process, given the exceedingly negative reaction to just a hint that something like that could happen – even if in fact, only a small project of introducing the history of the Roma at certain schools was in question. (See the discussion about the articles of T. A. Nový)

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic Photographs can also become a fundamental part of a research. They can be used as stimuli for interviews about other subjects, or they can be the subject of research themselves: exploring what thoughts or emotions they arouse, what the researched subjects see and how they understand that. Afterwards, photographs can become a part of the presentation of the research that is equal to text, in terms of physical as well as abstract space: the reader / viewer does not find all explanations in the text and is forced to analyze the photos, let them have an effect of their own. There are even authors who make photographs the only outcome of their research, providing very few or no titles or captions. It is possible to, for example, show changes of the same places or people in time, or the differences between certain locations, or just the atmosphere of a location, etc. Some photographs might need less or no explanation, because they have the capability of depicting details and emotions – and arousing emotions and memories as well. Nevertheless, in such a case, the author leaves too much on the part of the viewer and the outcome is uncertain, because every person has different knowledge, experience and memories.

3.3. Strengths and weaknesses Photography (or other visual materials) might be a useful part of research, because “it is worth a thousand words”, as they say. It can depict details, fleeting moments, changes in time, emotions, etc. It can also help with conducting interviews, or add another dimension to research when the researcher can return to pictures repeatedly, see “the big picture” – relationships and patterns, as the photograph can encompass an entire scene, or can even be taken from a bird’s eye view – or pay more attention to details, which might not be possible at the location where the picture was taken. Photographs are also excellent stimuli for one’s memory: be it the researcher, or the researched subjects. In addition, when working with photographs taken by other people, a researcher can gain access to locations or events he or she would otherwise not be allowed to. However, when working with photographs, researchers must be cautious. On the one hand, they must realize how the above mentioned factors can influence a photograph and be aware that it is not an objective snapshot of the true reality. On the other hand, they must consider the practical aspects of including photographs into the presentation of their research: Is it possible to publish one’s paper in a journal when pictures are included? Can they be in colour? What size can they be? How will the colours change? Will the quality be good? Then, there are ethical issues concerning photographs, copyright, etc. To sum up, researchers must evaluate various pros and cons carefully before including visual methods into (the presentation of) their work.

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic

4. Researching the Roma The sole concept of who the Roma are is a stereotype. It conveys an image of vagrants, nomads, trespassers, based on their origin in the north of India and their lifestyle in the past, despite the fact that they started to settle down in the 17th century [17] and “[t]he 1893 census showed that only 2 percent of Gypsies living in Slovakia at that time maintained a nomadic lifestyle. (Guy 1975: 216)” [17] In fact, when the law was passed in 1958, it only concerned some 15% of the Roma in Czechoslovakia. [1] Růžička [17] explains that sedentary societies feel threatened by “constant space-transcenders” because they consider them “basically untrustworthy” and therefore try to keep them spatially excluded. He points out that “[a] reader only rarely comes across explanations of Czech culture in terms of the experience of past Slavic nomadic tribes cruising the Russian steppes thousand years ago” and that his Roma “informants do not derive their identity from nomadic traditions at all and do not perceive themselves as nomads.” He further quotes Guy (2004: 173), saying “such primordialist background assumptions about the alleged “nomadic nature” and “nomadic identity” of Gypsies ... [are] “unfounded”.” There are many names used to describe one’s affiliation to this minority, even in English: Rom, Roma, Romani, Romany, Gypsy, Gipsy, etc. [18] In the Czech Republic, the term “Rom” is considered politically correct, in opposition to the term “cikán”. However, “cikán” or “cigán” is actually the term that is used often by the Roma themselves. I decided to conduct research on a sample of pictures found on the Internet. First, I considered choosing pictures from the online versions of the main mainstream newspapers, but then I decided to apply another approach: to use Google. I was interested in what comes on top when a person enters the words “Romové”, “cikáni”, or “cigáni”. Google is a search engine that tries to come with the most relevant pages, images, etc. to a particular query. It should be the “perfect search engine” that “understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.” [6] Therefore, the question stands: What do people mean and want when they search for the above mentioned words, in terms of pictures and their messages? I attempted to analyze the images in the way suggested by Barthes (see further), i.e. in terms of the three types of messages: linguistic, coded and non-coded iconic.

4.1. Reading photographs According to Barthes [2], there are three messages that can be found in an image: •

4

A linguistic message o It can include the caption, labels, etc. o To decipher the code of this message, it is necessary to have knowledge of writing and of the language it is in. o It can be twofold: denotational and connotational – the signifier, a sign4, can have two signifieds (meanings): naming something, or implying something else

It can be a word, an icon, a gesture, etc.

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic It can have two functions:  anchorage: guiding identification or interpretation, simply replying to the question what it is or by eliminating of what it is not – it is a controlling, repressive function  relay: text and image are in a complementary relationship, it is rare in the fixed image, but very important in film, cartoons, etc. A non-coded iconic message (literal, perceptual) o An image might capture assembled objects, or people, and a person looking at it can recognize that they are not just shapes and colours, but something identifiable (nameable). The signifiers are the photographed objects (or people) and the signifieds the real objects (or people) in the scene. o To decipher the message, the only knowledge needed is “bound up with our perception.” o It is denoted – it functions as the support of the symbolic message. Cleared of all connotations, it could be considered radically objective, or innocent. A coded iconic message (cultural) o Signs, such as objects, colours, compositions, etc., represent signifieds, such as activities, habits, customs, etc., that are associated with certain values. o To decipher the message, it is necessary to be familiar with the customs, stereotypes, etc. that are referred to. o It is connoted – it takes over the signs of the literal message and makes them its signifiers. o

In the following part of this paper, I present the results of my (re)search. As far as the presence of photographs in my paper is concerned, I presume it will be published in a pdf form. Therefore, I can afford to leave the pictures in colour. I present the photographs in each section before the text of my analysis, so the reader can first look at them and make their own assessment. I do not describe the non-coded iconic message, as it would take too much time and space, so I leave it to the reader to analyze the photographs on his or her own. If I should even try to analyze each picture separately, it would take a lot of time and words. Therefore, I can only draw general conclusions on what topics are captured and repeated in the pictures. Finally, I provide each of the analyzed names with a summary of their general perceptions. The analysis could go further, including the captions or titles of the pictures and how they restrict the meaning, or analyzing what websites the pictures come from and in what context they are used there. The pictures could also be used as a material for photo-elicitation during interviews, whose findings could subsequently compared with mine. It might be a subject of another, more extensive analysis, but this paper is just an attempt to try the technique in practice.

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic

4.2. “Romové” Figure 1: Top Google search results for the Czech word "the Roma", 27 February 2011

Source: Google [9]

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic 4.2.1.

Analysis

The top results to my query were 18 photographs (out of the total of approx. 53 thousand). What appears repeatedly is: • • • • • • • • •

people outdoors (all except 5, 12, 15, 17, and probably 18), men with a moustache (1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16), children (2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 18), houses or settlements in poor conditions (pictures 4, 5, 8, 13, 15, 17), big groups of people – sitting (7, 10, 13), standing (1, 2, 6, 11, 14, 15), playing a musical instrument or dancing (9, 16), rather poor clothes, such as tracksuits (3, 4, 7, 13, 14), countryside-like surroundings (2, 4, 5, 9), protests (1, 6, 15), tattooed men (2, 15).

What is depicted in these pictures are people that are rather poorly dressed, living in shacks or derelict buildings, children playing outdoors, people sitting or standing outdoors, but also people celebrating – eating, playing and dancing (outdoors). They are people with dark hair and darker complexion. There is also a black and white picture of a large group of children in old-fashioned clothes, probably from the beginning of the twentieth century. It might refer to the pre-war Roma population in the Czech lands. There is also a picture of a young Romani woman, but I do not recognize her. If I should decipher these messages based on my knowledge and experience, I would say that the Roma as depicted here are people who are poor, living in bad conditions, not working – just sitting around – complaining and protesting, whose children are numerous and wild. But they are also people who are musical – or their traditions are.

4.2.2.

General perceptions

The word “Rom” is of Indian origin. In contemporary India, there are still castes called “Doma” that markedly resemble the lifestyle of the Roma. The name probably comes from the interjections used to express the sound of a drum beat. They were and are mainly musicians by profession, but they were also genealogists, and they have worked as blacksmiths, basketmakers, artistes, traders, etc. [2][15] The word “Rom” is also used in the Romani language where it means “husband” or “(Romani) man” (a wife or a woman is “Romni”). “Roma” is the plural form. [18] In fact, the term “Rom” does not denote all the groups; some use their own names, such as the Sinti, who live e.g. in Germany. However, in 1971, at the first international Roma congress in London, the term “Rom” was adopted as the official name for a member of the ethnic group. [2][20]

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic

4.1. “Cikáni” Figure 2: Top Google search results for the Czech word "Gypsies", 27 February 2011

Source: Google [8]

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic

4.1.1.

Analysis

The top results to my query were 20 pictures (out of the total of approx. 26 thousand), one of them being a collage, two probably posters or DVD covers, and one a picture of a page from a book. What can be observed? •

• • • •

• •

It is clear at first sight that the connotation of the term “cikán” is more associated with culture: o There are women wearing scarves, long skirts and flowers in their long hair, lots of jewellery, and men in their traditional clothes as well. (pictures 3, 4, 5, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20) o People dancing and playing musical instruments. (4, 5, 15, 18, 20) o There are DVD covers or posters (17, 20) and something that seems to be a setting for a film. (10) Some of the photos are the same that appeared in the previous search. (6, 15) There are more pictures referring to the past – old photos (8, 14) and a picture of a horse pulling a wagon – an outdated means of transport. (11) The theme of children (mostly outdoors) is repeated here. (6, 7, 9, 16) The people depicted in these pictures look richer – it is probably because they are wearing their traditional clothes, normally worn on special occasions, but there are also some men wearing heavy gold chains on their necks, who appear to be on a beach. (2) There are some houses that look shabby. (7, 8, 9, 16) The page from a book (19) is from a story about the tomcat Mikeš, a popular Czech tale for children, and there is a highlighted passage describing how “cikáni” captured Mikeš into a sack and threw him onto a wagon. It refers to the historical stereotypes of them as vagrants, just like pictures 11 and 16, depicting horse-pulled wagons. The first picture is a collage, showing a Rom with a pack of Marlboro cigarettes in one hand, and with a bottle of alcohol in the other, with a cigarette in his mouth, the Slovak emblem in the background and the sentence “We are hungry” in the foreground. It is probably addressing another stereotype: of the Roma demanding help, but appearing rich – smoking, drinking, wearing branded clothes.

To sum up, the term “cikán” seems to have a split connotation. On the one hand, it captures the Romani culture: traditional dresses, dancing, playing musical instruments, festivals. On the other hand, it is more connected with prejudices against them. It refers to them as vagrants and it is more associated with the past. It is associated with their wealth: real or presumed. At the same time, however, it is also associated with an image of poor Roma, a lot of children and bad housing, like the previous analyzed term.

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic 4.1.2.

General perceptions

The expression “cikán”, parallel to German “Zigeuner” and to English “Gipsy”5, comes probably from the Greek word “athinganoi”, which means “untouchable”. Experts originally thought it was a name of a certain heretic sect, but there is also a hypothesis that the word is of Persian origin, related to the word for a blacksmith – “asinkar”, because the Roma are known as blacksmiths in contemporary Iran. [15] The term “cikán” is generally used as an aggregate name for different groups originally from India, whose best known representatives are the Roma and the Sinti. When the term “Rom” is used in this sense, it is not quite correct and discriminates other ethnic groups. Therefore, the Sinti Allianz Deutschland supports the use of the term “cikán” (i.e. Zigeuner) as a neutral and correct name covering all the groups. The Roma might perceive the word “cikán” as something insulting and defamatory, because its connotation entails a certain stereotypic tradition and prejudice. In the Dictionary of standard Czech language (1989), the synonyms associated with the word “cikán” are a vagrant, adventurer, liar, cheat, thief, etc. A respondent in a survey confirms that: “I have been called “cikán” since childhood, and it has never been meant as a name of an ethnically or culturally different group. It has always been an invective. I started contemplating who I actually was – a Rom or a Gipsy? In Romani, the word Rom is a proud name. Why do people call me with a scornful name? I am a proud Rom and if somebody wants to communicate with me, then as with a person equal to them, as an equal person with an equal person.” [2] The perception changes in time, even among generations. The noun “cikán” or the adjective “cikánský” is preferred for example in the context of culture. As a Roma respondent explained: “I also say “Gipsy music” [= cikánská hudba], for me, it is pointless to say “Romani music” [= romská hudba]. It is much more relaxed, and actually, the music really is “cikánská”. It is worse when it appears in media, “cikáni” – it is much more unpleasant.” And what if somebody addressed you that way? “It would depend on who would address me, in what tone.” [15] It would depend on the situation, context, speaker and tone. In this respect, the word “Roma” is neutral. “I don’t hear a jab in it”, another respondent explains. [14] The word “cikán” is also used by the Roma themselves, as respondents in a survey confirm: “I must say that even we, Roma, use the word “cikán” among ourselves. However, in our Romani language and in the Romani songs, the word is “Rom”, and not “cikán”.” “When we talk about somebody among the Roma, or when a Rom calls me “cikánko” [= the feminine form], I accept that.” [2]

5

The etymological origin is different (referring to their presumed origin in Egypt), but the use and the connotation is the same.

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic

4.1. “Cigáni” Figure 3: Top Google search results for the Czech word "Gippos", 27 February 2011

Source: Google [7]

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic 4.1.1.

Analysis

The top results to my query were 18 photographs (out of the total of approx. 108 thousand6). In what respect were they similar to / different from the previous sets? •

Again: o o o o

Most pictures are taken outdoors. (3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18) There are many pictures of children. (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 16, 18) Some pictures are the same as in the previous search for “cikán”. (7, 8) There are pictures of horse-pulled wagons (15, 17) and pictures that seem to be capturing the past. (15, 18) o There are pictures probably from the countryside. (5, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18) o There are shabby buildings. (3, 7, 9, 13, 14, 18) o There are women and men in traditional clothes. (5, 8, 18) o The clothes the Roma are wearing is not very good quality. (4, 6, 7, 9, 16, 18) What is different? o There are pictures of children indoors: it might be at kindergarten or school. While they appear to be “good” in picture 12, sitting at a table and drawing, they are in motion, naked, and rushing towards the camera in picture 1, inducing a feeling of uncontrollability, which is a common complaint of teachers in the Czech Republic. On the contrary, in picture 9, the children (not indoors) seem to be uncertain, afraid and sticking together tightly. However, if we return to the issue of the education of the Roma, one might observe that picture 127 shows only Romani children (except one girl with thick glasses in the back, who might not be Romani), which might signify it is a remedial school where many of the children end up. o There are pictures that associate the word “cigáni” with the black (or very dark) colour – racist. It is picture 3, where there is a group of people who look rather like small Indians than the Roma (or the Roma in the Czech Republic) – it might imply their Indian descent, and picture 11, which captures a joke: a yellow duckling is shouting after a flock of black ones “cigáni!” o There are also other pictures that are defamatory to the Roma. Picture 16 captures a Rom showing his bottom to the camera, picture 10 shows a little girl sticking her tongue and her middle finger at the photographer, and picture 6 is taken with such a lens that it distorts the picture. However, it might be said that these three pictures also show animosity of the Roma against the person who took the photograph – and so does picture 13. It is expressed by their face expressions, gestures and postures. The reaction and behaviour in these pictures could also be considered as ill-mannered.

6

It is necessary to realize that this expression is used also in Slovak and probably also other Slavic languages. However, I presume that Google chose the pictures most relevant to my geographical area. 7 Picture 1 as well, but it might be a kindergarten, and there are not remedial kindergartens.

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic o

o

There are cars in two of the pictures (4, 5). In picture 4, there is a piece of Opel in the front, presenting a sharp contrast to the vehicle presumably belonging to the Roma in the back. In picture 5, the situation is different, the car (it might be a BMW) seems to belong to the camping Romani women. Thus, the same difference appears here as in the previous part: there are rich and poor Roma. (The Roma lady in picture 2 might also belong to the richer ones, based on the background.) There is a picture capturing three firemen cleaning in front of a burnt house. It is hard to say, without context and related text, why this picture came up among the results and what associations it might arouse. There have been cases of arson against the Roma, but it is not a commonplace.

To sum up, my visual research suggests that the connotation of the word “cigáni” is more negative than the word “Romové” or “cikáni”, even pejorative. It seems to be associated with dark or black colour, with obscene behaviour, vagrancy, and poverty. To a lesser extent than the word “cikáni”, it is also associated with culture and dancing. In addition, the word “cigáni” is associated with Romani children at schools.

4.1.2.

General perceptions

The expression “cigán” is the Slovak form of the word “cikán”. It is used by the Roma themselves, because most of the Romani families now residing in the Czech Republic have a Slovak origin. As confirmed by a respondent in a survey: “We Roma also talk about “cigáni” in Czech, but there aren’t any prejudices in that.” [2] However, if the word is used by Czechs, it is different; it is perceived as pejorative. I am not sure if there is an English parallel for this. The difference between Gipsy and Gypsy does not really appear in spoken English, while the difference between “cikán” and “cigán” is clearly perceptible. The use of “g” instead of “k” then allows such pronunciation and (lower) intonation of the whole word that is more defamatory when used in Czech. Whether “cikán” or “cigán”, the truth is that both these term are exo-ethnonyms, i.e. names given by the others, while “Rom” is an endo-ethnonym, a self-name, and that is why it should be used in general. [2]

5. Conclusions In my miniresearch, I attempted to analyze what images are associated as relevant with the expressions “Romové”, “cikáni” and “cigáni” in the Google search, and how they can be read, what connotations they convey. In general, the expression “Rom” is considered as politically correct, in contrast to the other two expressions that might be perceived as derogatory. However, Romani respondents in various surveys confirm that such a perception is dependent on the speaker, the context and the tone, and that it is different if the word is used by another Rom or a non-Rom. My research confirmed that all the expressions are associated with the same ethnic group, but the word “cigáni” seems to be perceived most pejoratively, and associated with dark (even

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic black) skin. All these words were associated with images of people living in rather poor conditions and derelict buildings, often living in the countryside and spending time outdoors. All the expressions were also connected to pictures including children and musicians or dancers. The word “Romové” was associated with demonstrations and with the holocaust during the Second World War. The words “cikáni” and “cigáni” did convey more negative meanings – the sets of pictures included a derogatory collage and a racist joke. The term “cikáni” was most of all the three terms associated with music, dancing and traditional clothes, but also with historical pictures of families living in the countryside, and with a vagrant lifestyle. The worst connotations were associated with the word “cigáni”. Besides the association with dark / black skin, there were also other derogatory representations, caused by the used lens, contrasting contents, or by capturing unflattering situations / behaviour. However, the pictures associated with the words “cikáni” and “cigáni” also showed the contrast between rich and poor Romani representatives, while the results for “Romové” seemed to present just the poor ones. The children captured in the photographs were mostly playing outdoors, wearing poor clothing, staying in groups, holding each other, appearing wild and full of life, but sometimes also uncertain and cautious. Only the word “cigáni” brought two images of Romani children at schools, which suggests that the perception of them in this setting is negative. All in all, my research confirmed the general perceptions of the three terms, with an insignificant reservation: At first sight, the expression “cikáni” and its association with culture, music and dancing appeared more positive than the politically correct “Romové”. However, one must not forget that these traditions are not really a part of their current everyday life.

6. References [1]

[2] [3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

Barša, P.: Ethnocultural Justice in East European States and the Case of the Czech Roma. in Kymlicka, W., Opalski, M.: Can Liberal Pluralism be Exported? Western Political Theory and Ethnic Relations in Eastern Europe. 2001. pp. 243-58. Barthes, R.: Rhetoric of the Image. in Barthes, R.: Image, Music, Text. 1977. pp. 32-51. Buryánek, J.: Interkulturní vzdělávání. Příručka nejen pro středoškolské pedagogy. 2002. pp. 191-8. http://www.varianty.cz/cdrom/podkapitoly/b02romove/17.pdf [accessed 28 February 2011] Czech Statistical Office: Vybrané národnosti České republiky. http://www.czso.cz/csu/2003edicniplan.nsf/t/C2002EA6AD/$File/Kapitola3.pdf [accessed 28 February 2011] Czech Statistical Office: Základní charakteristiky národnostního složení obyvatel České republiky v roce 2001 a jejich změny za posledních 10 let. http://www.czso.cz/csu/2003edicniplan.nsf/t/C2002DD869/$File/Kapitola2.pdf [accessed 24 February 2011] Google – About Google – Corporate Information: Technology overview – Search. http://www.google.com/corporate/tech.html [accessed 27 February 2011]

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Visual Representations of the Roma in the Czech Republic [7]

[8]

[9]

[10] [11]

[12] [13] [14]

[15]

[16] [17]

[18]

[19]

[20]

Google Search for “cigáni”: http://www.google.cz/images?um=1&hl=en&rlz=1C1SKPC_enCZ351CZ351&biw=1366& bih=643&tbs=isch:1&sa=1&q=cig%C3%A1ni&aq=f&aqi=&aql=f&oq= [accessed 27 February 2011] Google Search for “cikáni”: http://www.google.cz/images?um=1&hl=en&rlz=1C1SKPC_enCZ351CZ351&biw=1366& bih=600&tbs=isch:1&sa=1&q=cik%C3%A1ni&aq=f&aqi=g1&aql=f&oq= [accessed 27 February 2011] Google Search for “romové”: http://www.google.cz/images?um=1&hl=en&rlz=1C1SKPC_enCZ351CZ351&biw=1366& bih=600&tbs=isch:1&sa=1&q=romov%C3%A9&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq= [accessed 27 February 2011] Horváthová, J.: Identita jako jedno z romských traumat. Romové v České republice. http://romove.radio.cz/cz/clanek/23036 [accessed 27 February 2011] Matějka, F.: Ještě to stihneme. Potřebujeme více Romů. 27. 2. 2011, 11:15. http://parlamentnilisty.cz/parlament/politici-volicum/190060.aspx [accessed 28 February 2011] Nový, T. A.: Plošný dějepis Romů na školách nebude. 26. 2. 2011, 6:22. http://www.parlamentnilisty.cz/parlament/189992.aspx [accessed 27 February 2011] Nový, T. A.: Připravte své děti na nový předmět: Dějepis Romů. 24. 2. 2011, 5:11. http://parlamentnilisty.cz/zpravy/189802.aspx [accessed 27 February 2011] Roma Vakeren: Rom nebo Cikán? Romové v České republice. Český rozhlas 1 – Radiožurnál, 21. 2. 2003. http://romove.radio.cz/cz/clanek/18951 [accessed 27 February 2011] Roma Vakeren: Rom nebo Cikán? Romové v České republice. Český rozhlas 1 – Radiožurnál, 14. 2. 2003. http://romove.radio.cz/cz/clanek/18954 [accessed 27 February 2011] Refugee Council: Unwanted Journey: Why Central European Roma are fleeing to the UK. 1999. pp. 11-31, 67-70. Růžička, M.: Researching and Politicizing Migration: The Case of Roma/Gypsies in PostSocialist Czecho-Slovakia. in Hofírek, O., Klvaňová, R., Nekorjak, M.: Boundaries in Motion: Rethinking Contemporary Migration Events. 2009. pp. 79-103. University of Manchaster: History of the Romani language: Names. The Romani Linguistics Site. http://romani.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/whatis/language/names.shtml [accessed 28 February 2011] Visegrad Fund: Základní informace. Mayors for Roma Inclusion Forum. http://www.visegradinclusion.org/cs/page/zakladni-informace:134/ [accessed 26 December 2010] Wikipedia: Cikáni. http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cik%C3%A1ni [accessed 27 February 2011]

References to texts on visual methods (general thoughts in this paper) Ball, S., Gilligan, C.: Visualising Migration and Social Division: Insights From Social Sciences and the Visual Arts. Forum: Qualitative Social Research. Volume 11. No. 2. Art. 26. May 2010. Harper, D.: Talking about pictures: a case for photoelicitation. Visual Studies. 17(1). pp. 13-26. Rose, G.: Visual Methodologies. An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. 2006. pp. 237-256.

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