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Centre for Creative Ethnography

Raluca Roman

Raluca Roman

I am a social anthropologist whose primary interest lies in the study of religion (specifically Christianity), ethnicity/nationalism, migration and humanitarianism, with a focus on Roma/Gypsy communities in Eastern Europe. In addition to this, I have a connected focus on visual anthropology and a more recent interest in the development of artificial intelligence and the anthropological study of transhumanism and life extension technologies, through creative means. I have also been part of two international projects, focusing on performative uses of archival materials within theatre contexts, have training in ethnographic film-making (Filmmaking for Fieldwork, from the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, 2013) and have taught on an MA Programme in Arts and Perception at the University of St Andrews.

I have conducted fieldwork in Finland and Romania, having previously researched the experience of religious mobilisation among the Finnish Kaale (or, as they are more widely known, the Finnish Roma). Within it, I explored the ways in which Western Pentecostalism reshapes understandings of social relevance and ideas of development among Roma communities, primarily within the practice of trans-national missionary work, with a focus placed on the role of religious humanitarianism in this process. This shaped my further interest in the study of religious humanitarianism and the ways in which ideas of social engagement connect to specific understandings of social inequalities.

I was also part of a large-scale ERC Advanced Grant project “RomaInterbellum” based at the School of History, the University of St Andrews. My work within that project has informed not only my approach to the role of cross-disciplinarity in fostering new avenues of anthropological insights, and collaboration, creativity but also my approach to teaching. To this end, I contributed to the MA program, Art and Perception, within the Social Anthropology department at St Andrews, with a lecture series themed Performing the Archives, exploring the entanglements of anthropology and history, as well as the role of the anthropologist conducting archival research, and the new means to present research material through performance (primarily theatre plays) and school outreach. Part of this approach was also presented in a 3-day field school for MA students in Anthropology, Atlantic Anthropological, in April 2023, which took place in Dingle, Ireland, as part of a strategic collaboration between QUB, UCC, DCU and Sacred Heart, Dingle. In addition to this, based on my previous training in ethnographic filmmaking, I am in the process of designing a module on Visual Anthropology, to be taught in collaboration with film scholars, film-makers, museum curators, and practitioners, with the aim of exploring the role of the ‘visual’ within ethnographic fieldwork and ethnographic writing

  • Projects and Publications

    I have published widely on the theme of Roma, minorities, nationalism and religious mobilisation.

    I have been part of several international and inter-disciplinary research projects. From 2015-2018, I was part of the Academy of Finland funded project, Roma and Nordic Societies, anthropologists, researching the intersection of broader state policies concerning Roma minorities in the Nordic countries and the everyday experiences of living with state directives, which led to the publication of a Special Issue in the Journal of Finnish Studies, of which I was a co-editor. I have also been part of a Kone foundation project ‘Divergent Fates: travelling circus people in Europe during National Socialism’ (2017), which used both archival materials and oral histories to explore the experiences of circus families during the Second World War, and employed theatre and circus performances as means of research dissemination, with collaboration from local theatre and circus groups in Germany, France and Finland ( Finally, in 2018, I joined an ERC Advanced Research Grant, “RomaInterbellum”, at the University of St Andrews, and contributed to the production of three manuscripts: “Roma Voices in History” (2021, Brill), “Roma Writings in History” (2021, Brill, of which I was a co-edior) and “Roma Portraits in History (2022, Brill), all Open Access. I am currently in the process of finalising my monograph, “Kaale Belongings and Evangelical Becomings: An Ethnography of Finnish Roma”, and developing a new project on sex robots, artificial intelligence and transhuman morality, with an aim of incorporating visual and creative methods of research and research dissemination.