Over the last decade the Roma minority has been represented as one of the most controversial issues within the Romanian public discourse. On the one hand, Roma people were the invariable subjects of cover-stories featuring negative stereotypes – theft, beggary, murder, rape – in the everyday production of news. On the other hand, aspects such as attractive portraits of gifted artists both in popular and elite culture, their magic capacities, the “wild” beauty of dance and music and the international celebrity of gypsy musicians made them legitimate performers of Romanian and (Old) European culture (with examples ranging from Grigoraş Dinicu to Maria Tănase, Ion Voicu, Gheorghe Zamfir, Johnny Răducanu, Ovidiu Lipan, Damian Drăghici, and many others). But the European integration process put emphasis on the ties of deprecated representations as radical otherness and the mechanisms of exclusion and discrimination of Roma people not only in Romanian press and society, but also in other European countries. It also contributed – on the basis of the EU acquis communautaire – to a more practical monitoring of the interdependence between social exclusion and absolute poverty. The programs, priorities and projects supported by the EC focused on the education of young Roma and the development of a young Roma middle class, aiming to increase their own capacities to redefine self-identity despite stereotypes, to put pressure on the authorities for support, and to develop and to fight discrimination and exclusion, especially given that Roma people are the most numerous European minority, comprising 14 million people.
The present research aims to identify if and how the public intellectuals defining the Roma people in articles and editorials show signs of conforming to negative stereotypes or have a more comprehensive position, moving away from these older stereotypes. More precisely, this analysis intends to clarify to what extent society provides Roma communities with the opportunity to define themselves under the present social, political, economic and cultural circumstances.
Keywords: Roma communities, Roma minority, identity, discrimination, ethnic group, media, communication, cliché, image, culture.