The Text beyond Itself: Romani Social Construction in Romanian Secret Police Files

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Published May 24, 2024
Delia Popescu


Romanian State Secret Police (Securitate) files produced before 1989 can be accessed today through a lengthy process that requires official research authorization through a government office, the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității - CNSAS). The CNSAS General Document Fund includes large issue-related files under the umbrella of “The Gypsy Problem,” with thousands of pages of both national and county-level reports and recommendations. This paper teases out the granular documentary clues (spie, as Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg describes them) in some of the Securitate files to explore the way in which a pattern of documentary communication is built to frame Romani identity as idiosyncratically marginal, oriental, and parasitic. A particularly interesting aspect of the knowledge production imposed through these files is reflected by anecdotes that purportedly illustrate the character of the Roma. This study analyzes the relations of power built through hermeneutic devices and language choices which build “truth formulae” (Weir) that reify a particular view of Romani ethnicity, class, and gender. This archival (de)construction has implications for a long view of policy, political memory, and exclusionary societal attitudes today and in the future.

How to Cite

Popescu, D. (2024). The Text beyond Itself: Romani Social Construction in Romanian Secret Police Files. Critical Romani Studies, 6(1).
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Article Details


Roma, Romani, Archive, Marginalization, State police, Romania