Literacy, Literature and Identity Politics
To Be Published November 1st 2013 by Routledge – 176 pages
Series: Routledge Research in Literacy
The Roma (commonly known as 'Gypsies') have largely been depicted in writings and in popular culture as an illiterate group. However, as Paola Toninato demonstrates, the Roma have a deep understanding of literacy and its implications, and use writing for a range of different purposes. While some Romani writers adopt an 'oral' use of the written medium, which is instrumental in opposing and 'deconstructing' anti-Gypsy stereotypes, other Romani authors use writing for purposes of identity-building. Writing is perceived by Romani activists and intellectuals as a key factor in establishing a shared identity and introducing a common language that transcends linguistic and geographical boundaries between different Romani groups. As Toninato makes clear, Romani authors, acting in-between different cultures and communication systems, regard writing as an act of 'cultural mediation' through which they are able to 're-write' and 'negotiate' their identity while retaining their ethnic specificity. Indeed, Toninato concludes by emphasizing how Romani authors have started to create self-images in which the Roma are no longer portrayed as 'objects', but become 'subjects' of written representation.
Foreword by Professor Judith Okely
PART ONE: ROMANI LITERACY
Chapter 1 The construction of the "primitive ‘Gypsy’"
Chapter 2 The Romani approach to education
Chapter 3 The Romani approach to literacy
PART TWO: The Politics of ROMANI WRITING
Chapter 4 The rise of Romani writing
Chapter 5 "From the native’s point of view": the use of writing for counter-hegemonic purposes
Chapter 6 Re-writing ‘Gypsy’ history: the use of writing for identity-building purposes
Chapter 7 The female voice: the case of Slovenian-Croatian Roma and Sinti women writers
PART THREE: ROMANI WRITING AS INTERCULTURAL PRACTICE
Chapter 8 Hybridity and bricolage: the key to Romani writing
Chapter 9 Romani writing as negotiation of ‘Gypsy’ identity
Paola Toninato is an Associate Research Fellow at the University of Warwick. Her publications include The Creolization Reader, co-edited with Robin Cohen, and Differences on Stage, co-edited with Alessandra De Martino and Paolo Puppa.