About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 885-894
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain

ROMANY WOMEN AND ETHNIC BARRIERS TO INSTITUTIONALIZED EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF BRAZILIAN ROMANY COMMUNITIES IN RIO DE JANEIRO AND SAO PAULO

D. Budur

Princeton University (UNITED STATES)
This is an anthropological inquiry about the impact of ethnic-specific gender inequalities on access to institutionalized education among Romany people in Brazil. Analysis of qualitative ethnographic data concerning learning, childhood socialization, gender roles, honor and shame, as observed during two years of fieldwork among the Romany in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, shows that continued emphasis on female virginity at marriage and arranged early marriages dissuade girls from continuing their formal education beyond gaining literacy. Yet, in an environment of religious syncretism as found in Brazil, the traditional occupation of Romany women as fortune-tellers is a thriving source of profit. In addition, Brazil has legalized this career and offers an official work card as proof of coursework completion in relevant subjects such as card reading, numerology, and astrology. Most Romany women do not have physical access to the Sao Paulo institution where these courses are available, and online education could help them obtain such a work card, which offers legal protection in case of lawsuits. Nonetheless, Romany women in Brazil are often the main income producers in their families. This article also discusses whether being the breadwinner translates into female empowerment. Findings suggest that education beyond literacy should be promoted for pursuing gender equality and for nurturing political consciousness among Romany women in Brazil. This case study is representative of the Romany minority’s aversion to institutionalized education, as documented by Romologists all over the world, particularly in Europe and in the United States. Experts such as Margaret Csapo, Jean-Pierre Liegéois, Anne Sutherland and Carol Silverman mention the difficulties in trying to socially integrate the Romany into public schools. For one, the mainstream society’s prejudice limits Romany students’ desire to attend schools. In addition, Romany parents often express strong disinterest in educating their children in schools beyond alphabetization. Parents prevent girls, in particular, from participating in public education because they consider that girls may be tempted to elope with non-Romany boys. Parents prefer to keep girls at home, where they ensure their virginity at marriage, and provide apprenticeship in fortunetelling. In most communities all over the world, Romany childhood socialization prioritizes customs and Romanes language over mainstream education, in efforts to resist social pressures of assimilation/ acculturation. In order to increase Romany interest in institutionalized education, the government of Romania, country with the largest Romany population in Europe, has recently made available Romanes language and history courses in public schools. This article proposes to make such coursework available online. International Romany Union efforts should be invested into translating these Romanian-based textbook materials into other languages such as Brazilian Portuguese. Since a large number of Romany people in Brazil chose to live in ethnic invisibility and do not wish to have their language made available in public schools, this article further suggests that Brazilian cultural policies should create Romany cultural centers where ethnic-specific coursework would be available. Such centers would not only minimize gender inequalities, but also increase interest in public schools by demonstrating the benefits of education.
@InProceedings{BUDUR2011ROM,
author = {Budur, D.},
title = {ROMANY WOMEN AND ETHNIC BARRIERS TO INSTITUTIONALIZED EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF BRAZILIAN ROMANY COMMUNITIES IN RIO DE JANEIRO AND SAO PAULO},
series = {5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-7423-3},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {7-9 March, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {885-894}}
TY - CONF
AU - D. Budur
TI - ROMANY WOMEN AND ETHNIC BARRIERS TO INSTITUTIONALIZED EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF BRAZILIAN ROMANY COMMUNITIES IN RIO DE JANEIRO AND SAO PAULO
SN - 978-84-614-7423-3/2340-1079
PY - 2011
Y1 - 7-9 March, 2011
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2011 Proceedings
SP - 885
EP - 894
ER -
D. Budur (2011) ROMANY WOMEN AND ETHNIC BARRIERS TO INSTITUTIONALIZED EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF BRAZILIAN ROMANY COMMUNITIES IN RIO DE JANEIRO AND SAO PAULO, INTED2011 Proceedings, pp. 885-894.
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