Martor No. 25 / Year 2020

Lăutar Space”: Marriage, Weddings, and Identity among Romani Musicians in Romania 

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Margaret Beissinger

Princeton University, USA

Pages: 97-114

Keywords: Lăutari [Romani musicians], identity, marriage, weddings, hybridity, process.

Abstract: This article treats, through the lens of marriage and nuptial practices, how lăutari (professional male Romani musicians who perform at Romanian weddings) and their families self-identify as Romanianized Roma. Lăutari assume hybrid forms of identity, drawing on both traditional Romani and mainstream Romanian culture as they perpetually create and recreate their own composite sense of “lăutar space.” Lăutari, like many Roma, preserve basic norms of traditional matrimony, and weddings provide an arena in which they express emblems of Romani culture. Yet lăutari also invoke their “elite” status vis-a-vis “other Gypsies” by refuting what they view as “backward” marital praxes. Moreover, they both appropriate certain Romanian nuptial traditions as well as sustain a basic distrust of Romanians as non-Roma. While lăutar culture has evolved significantly over the twentieth century, younger family members are carving out their own shifting forms of “lăutar space” in unprecedented ways, often fueled by educational opportunities. This article examines how lăutar identity is nurtured through a dynamic merging of Romani and Romanian cultures and how marriage and wedding practices inform these intersections.

How to cite this article: Beissinger, Margaret. 2020. “’Lăutar Space’: Marriage, Weddings, and Identity among Romani Musicians in Romania.” Martor 25: 97-114. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2020.25.06]