Accounting for extreme prejudice and legitimating blame in talk about the Romanies

2009-10-28T14:20:00Z (GMT) by Cristian Tileaga
This article examines the particulars of extreme prejudiced discourse about ethnic minorities in a Romanian sociocultural context. It concentrates on a detailed analysis of a single case taken from a wider project aimed at comparing and contrasting the way Romanians talk about Hungarians with the way they talk about Romanies. The article examines in detail the discourse of a middle-class Romanian accounting for prejudice and discrimination towards Romanies as part of an interview on a series of controversial issues surrounding ethnic minorities. This article tries to highlight and interrogate claims that Romanies are to blame for prejudice against them. The analysis, inspired by a critical discursive approach, has a discursive and conversational analytic focus to examine switches in talk about 'us' to talk that blames 'them'. The analysis suggests that talk about Romanies is more extreme than the anti-alien, anti-immigrant prejudiced talk studied by numerous western critical researchers. It is more extreme because Romanies are not merely portrayed as being different, but also as being beyond the moral order, beyond nationhood, difference and comparison. Talk about Romanies employs a style that, at the same time, denies, but also protects extreme prejudice. This article illustrates and discusses some of the discursive, rhetorical and interpretative resources used to talk about and legitimate the blaming of Romanies. In examining the dynamics of extreme prejudice against Romanies, this article provides a critical investigation of the social and political consequences of extreme discursive patterning. Implications for the study of discursive construction and representation of difference in talk about Romanies are also discussed.