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Staging Citizenship: Roma, Performance and Belonging in EU Romania

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Volume 11

Dance and Performance Studies

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Staging Citizenship

Roma, Performance and Belonging in EU Romania

Ioana Szeman

204 pages, 7 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-730-7 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (December 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78920-797-2 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (April 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78533-731-4 eBook

Hb Pb   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


Staging Citizenship is a major contribution to studies of performance and belonging within subaltern communities that resonates far beyond the borders of Romania, as Roma in other post-communist and, in many cases, recently admitted EU member states in Eastern Europe likewise continue to experience gaps of actual citizenship. Szeman provides a powerful message about (the denial of) Romani rights; her findings are original, incisive and nuanced.” • Feminist Review

“The contribution of this book can be valuable for readers in different disciplines of the social sciences and humanities, in particular those interested in empirically-based cultural analyses of east European Roma or those willing to contemplate issues of the cultural recognition of subaltern populations on the ethicized, nationalized, and globalized cultural scenes through this analysis that uses the angle of performance studies.” • Slavic Review

“The book is written in an a clear and enjoyable prose, the concepts introduced are well chosen and enlighten the analytical work.” • Játék-Tér

“Readers expecting to find ‘colorful dancing Roma’ might find this study disappointing at first. But those who follow Ioana Szeman’s narrative—which encompasses fairs, dance performances, NGO training sessions, television programs, and an entire community inhabiting a garbage dump—will discover a much more nuanced, complex, and reality-based portrayal of Romani life.” • Sonia Tamar Seeman, University of Texas, Austin

“This book analyzes the social position and cultural representation of Roma in post-socialist Europe in a thoroughly original way. Few studies have so eloquently demonstrated ‘why culture matters’ in contemporary debates about exclusion, nationalism, and European minorities.” • Huub van Baar, Justus Liebig University Giessen


Based on over a decade of fieldwork conducted with urban Roma, Staging Citizenship offers a powerful new perspective on one of the European Union’s most marginal and disenfranchised communities. Focusing on “performance” broadly conceived, it follows members of a squatter’s settlement in Transylvania as they navigate precarious circumstances in a postsocialist state. Through accounts of music and dance performances, media representations, activism, and interactions with both non-governmental organizations and state agencies, author Ioana Szeman grounds broad themes of political economy, citizenship, resistance, and neoliberalism in her subjects’ remarkably varied lives and experiences.

Ioana Szeman is Reader in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Roehampton, London. Her articles have appeared in books and journals, including Theatre Research International, New Theatre Quarterly, TDR, and Performance Research. She is a member of the Feminist Review editorial collective.

Subject: Anthropology (General) Performance Studies
Area: Central/Eastern Europe


List of Illustrations


Chapter 1. ‘We Will Build a Beautiful Future Together’: NGO Historiography, Roma Culture and Monoethnic Nationalism
Chapter 2. Living in the Citizenship Gap: Roma and the Permanent State of Emergency in Pod
Chapter 3. Too Poor to Have Culture? The Politics of Authenticity in Roma NGO Training
Chapter 4. Performing Bollywood: Young Roma Dance Cultural Citizenship
Chapter 5. Consuming Exoticism/Reimagining Citizenship: Romanian Nationalism and Roma Counterpublics on Romanian Television
Chapter 6. The Ambivalence of Success: Roma Musicians and the Citizenship Gap in Romania

Conclusion: Unlearning the Forgetting


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