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Elliott, Melissa W. (2005) Music, 'race' and diaspora: Romani music making in Ostrava, Czech Republic. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is a contribution towards an historically informed understanding of contemporary music making amongst Roma in Ostrava, Czech Republic. It also challenges, from a theoretical perspective, conceptions of relationships between music and discourses of 'race'. My research is based on fieldwork conducted in Ostrava, between August 2003 and July 2004 and East Slovakia in July 2004, as well as archival research in Ostrava and Vienna. These fieldwork experiences compelled me to explore music and ideas of 'race' through discourses of diaspora in order to assist in conceptualising and interpreting Romani music making in Ostrava. The vast majority of Roma in Ostrava are post-World War II emigres or descendants of emigres from East Slovakia. In contemporary Ostrava, most Roma live on the socioeconomic margins and are most often regarded as a separate 'race' with a separate culture from the dominant population. Chapter 1 considers Romani history and origins in the light of postmodern perspectives. Academic and grassroots debates are reviewed and I explore their significance in the context of contemporary Romani music making in Ostrava. The history of 'race', the history of Roma in the Czech lands and Slovakia 1399-1948, and their increasing interweaving and fatal collision in the Nazi-led Holocaust, is outlined in chapter 2. The legacies of the Holocaust, Romani history and contemporary racial experiences are considered in relation to the anthem of the Czech and Slovak Roma. Chapter 3 considers life for Roma under Czechoslovak socialism and I examine recordings of Romani music and memories of this time. In chapter 4, the vast socio-economic and cultural changes following the demise of the Communist party and the influence of the modern nation-state and nationalism are explored in relation to Ostrava Roma and the major reinterpretations of Romani musical traditions that have been taking place post-1989. The phenomenon of Rompop is discussed in chapter 5, particularly its contemporary expressions in bands, parties and discos in Ostrava, which is then used as an example in the consideration of possible connections between music and ideas of 'race' in a theoretical interlude. Chapter 6 explores new trends in Ostrava music making that mark a fundamental rupture with traditions and draw on a variety of cultural expressions from around the globe. In chapter 7, I introduce the small and separate group of Vlach Roma in Ostrava and their strong diasporic connections to other Vlach. I conclude my theoretical challenge to conceptions of music and 'race' in chapter 8 by offering a framework with which to consider Romani music making in Ostrava and its racialisation, drawing on Hall's theory of articulation and discourses of diaspora.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:08

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