Reexamining Genealogical Fantasies about the Indian Origin of Romani People
Romani people have been framed as a problem in Europe since the 18th century. Ethnographers and linguists identified origins and characteristics, while demographers have often sought to ostracize them. Meanwhile, a large number of scholars traced their origins to India. India, on the other hand, has reappropriated the originary claim and started to embrace the Roma community as one of their ‘own’. This talk focuses on the epistemic and political implications of ascribing an ‘Indian origin’ to the Roma. How do scholars and savants seek to understand Roma populations with reference to their purported origin and what ideas of Indian-ness does this entail?
Avishek Ray teaches at the National Institute of Technology Silchar (India). He is the author of The Vagabond in the South Asian Imagination: Representation, Agency & Resilience (Routledge, 2021) and co-editor of Nation, Nationalism and the Public Sphere: Religious Politics in India (SAGE, 2020). His research appears in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Contemporary South Asia, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Multicultural Education Review, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, Tourism, Culture & Communication, among others; and he has held research fellowships at the University of Edinburgh (UK), Purdue University Library (USA), Centre for Advanced Study, Sofia (Bulgaria), Mahidol University (Thailand) and Pavia University (Italy). In 2021, he was awarded Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellowship.