Challenging stereotypes is not enough: a dialogue with Roma Art

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Public representations of Roma, Gypsy and Traveller people still tend to homogenise and typecast ‘the Gypsies’ with visual representations a mainstay of racist tropes. Whilst academics have worked to challenge stereotypes through deconstructing age-old tropes, pointing out their historical fallacies and inherent (often hidden) modes of practice and persuasion, visuality has often been glossed over. Furthermore, academic work has not yet changed the ideological system that still racialises and excludes ‘Gypsies’. This article considers what we might learn from a focus on the visual, considering the increasing visibility of artists and activists from various Roma heritages who produce evocative images of their reactions to, and experiences of, damaging stereotypes. Using visuality as a lens, and focusing on Roma artistic and activist production, i.e. looking at what happens when Roma people become the image-maker, this article brings new insights into the ways of challenging stereotypes. Three preliminary observations are drawn from contemporary Roma Art and activism that can form a paradigm shift from old modes of deconstructing. Rather than solely deconstructing misrepresentations, contemporary art and activism take up familiar tropes associated with ‘the Gypsies’ and denaturalises them, exposing such misrepresentations as strange, unfair, obscure and racist. Rather than just challenging through deconstructing, the artists and activists denaturalise age-old misrepresentations by unsettling the supposed stability and fixity of those stereotypes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number09
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cultural Analysis and Social Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2023


  • Roma Art
  • activism
  • Roma
  • Gypsy
  • Travellers
  • VIsual representations
  • Anti-racism
  • decolonisation
  • stereotypes
  • Images
  • Representations
  • misrepresentations
  • deconstruction

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