Does being Roma matter?
Does being Roma matter? Ethnic Boundaries and Stigma Spillover in Musical Consumption
with andreea mogosanu
Manele songs, an updated version of traditional Romani music, are excluded from mainstream Romanian media due to their association with the country’s large Roma minority. The genre is at the intersection between Romania’s democratic transition and growing efforts to strengthen boundaries between the country’s marginalized Romani minority and the non-Romani majority population. But we find that media discussions around manele underscore a fluid relationship between ethnic boundaries and stigmatized cultural consumption. All those who listen to manele are portrayed in negative terms by the media, no matter whether ethnic markers are used as part of the portrayal. In the context of manele, genre-based stereotypes extend beyond ethnic boundaries to assign negative social value to a wide swathe of people who consume the genre. The stigma spillover surrounding manele audiences therefore underlines the ways in which Roma identity is fluid, and anyone associated with the Roma can be relegated to the lower rungs of social status. Manele show how the political process of ethnic boundary-making draws a wide net over those located at the bottom of power hierarchies.