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Pentecostal Faith and Identity in Contemporary Romania: Religious Conversion Among Traditional Romani Musicians

Title
Pentecostal Faith and Identity in Contemporary Romania: Religious Conversion Among Traditional Romani Musicians
Speaker(s)
Speaker: Margaret Beissinger # Princeton University; Hosted by: Sociology and the Dashkova Centre # University of Edinburgh
Hosted by
Introduced by
Date and Time
5th Nov 2015 17:10 - 5th Nov 2015 18:00
Location
14 Buccleuch Place
URL
http://www.sociology.ed.ac.uk/events2/seminar_series/2015_2016/pentecostal_faith_and_identity_in_contemporary_romania_religious_conversion_among_traditional_romani_musicians

Based on fieldwork between 2006 and 2014 in southern Romania, I explore a trend among some Romani professional traditional musicians (lăutari, sg. lăutar) to adopt the Pentecostal faith, a transformation that radically alters their lives.  As Romani musicians embrace their new religious identity, they are apparently expected to reject their secular profession—music-making.  I discuss why Romani musicians are converting to Pentecostalism in the post-communist period in Romania, how they are adapting to a reshuffling of their professional priorities, and how they are managing to support their families without their former incomes.  My findings indicate that most musicians convert in order to renounce what they recognize as their shameful and errant ways, especially associated with performing music in public as lăutari (which assumes smoking, drinking, and womanizing in varying degrees).  Post-conversion adaptation is admittedly extremely difficult but smoothest when former lăutari assume public positions of influence in the Church (e.g., as pastors).  Moreover, making ends meet for their families is very problematic and sometimes next to impossible.  In the final analysis, without institutional support, many Romani musicians simply cannot abide by the expectations of the Church regarding music-making and thus return to their former occupations.  The Pentecostal transnational religious movement resonates in telling ways among various ethnic and occupational communities and is a significant factor in the shifting of religious, cultural, and social identities in contemporary Romania.

sociology