Keynote Presentation -
Global Gypsy: Balkan Romani Music, Human Rights, and Appropriation
In the last twenty-five years the popularity of Balkan “Gypsy” music has exploded, becoming a staple at world music festivals and dance clubs in the United States and Western Europe. At the same time, thousands of Balkan Roma have emigrated westward due to deteriorating living conditions, and entrenched stereotypes of criminality have arisen amidst deportations and harassment. In this heightened atmosphere of xenophobia, Roma, as Europe’s largest minority and its quintessential “other,” face the paradox that they are revered for their music yet reviled a potent in-group symbol in cosmopolitan contexts. Focusing on communities, clubs and festivals in Europe as well as the US, this ethnographic presentation investigates the ramifications for Romani performers and non-Romani musicians, producers, audiences, and marketers.
Carol Silverman is Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Folklore at the University of Oregon. She has done research with Roma for 40 years in Balkans, Western Europe and the US. Her work explores the intersection of politics, music, human rights, gender, and state policy with a focus on issues of representation. She is also a professional performer and teacher of Balkan Music, and works with the NGO Voice of Roma. Her book Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora (Oxford University Press, 2012) won the Book Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology.