Gender, Sexuality and Ethnicity in the Stereotypical Construction of Ț. Slaves in the Romanian lands, 1385-1848

The Ț. other has been a primary discursive tool of socio-economic and ethno-national organisation in Romania since the fourteenth century, when it was decreed in the Romanian principalities of Wallachia and Moldova that all Romani people would be

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  C HAPTER E LEVEN  G ENDER  ,   S EXUALITY AND E THNICITY IN THE S TEREOTYPICAL C ONSTRUCTION OF ! .   T HROUGHOUT S LAVERY IN THE R  OMANIAN L ANDS ,   1385-1848 S HANNON W OODCOCK   As many scholars now recognise, racist discourses and their formations are distinct from the individuals who are interpellated by them, and yet  popular and even academic discourses conflate !  igan  and  Zigeuner   stereotypes with Romani peoples, When one repeats proper pronouns used to denigrate, segregate and even murder Romani people, they invoke and reinforce the negative power of those words. Thus, I follow the lead of Alexandra Oprea and replace the ! . word with “ ! .” in my work and speech (Oprea 2012). With “ ! .” I refer to a discursive construct in precise historical context. The ! . other has been a primary discursive tool of socio-economic and ethno-national organisation in Romania since the fourteenth century, when the Romanian principalities of Wallachia and Moldova decreed that all Romani people would be enslaved by the state for sale to private owners. Sexuality, gender and ethnicity were pervasive categories of modern social organisation, and this paper explores how slave-owning society articulated its own discourses of Romanian gender and sexuality through articulating the ! . as gendered and sexualised slaves. In Romanian medieval law, the term slavery ( robirea ) referred to individuals owned by a person, and slave owners (  stapân ) controlled the lives of ‘their’ slaves (Constantin 2009). Slave owners therefore had to create the identity and social status of the slave, an anxious and difficult project that required constant discursive attention. This paper examines how popular oral culture (proverbs) complemented the legal system to construct the stereotypical masculine Romanian self against the constructed ! . slave other. It is useful to imagine stereotypical discourse as a heavy metal chain  Antiziganism – What´s in a Word? 177 hanging above us everywhere we go. It is composed of individual stereotypes as links, which contradict each other yet remain fastened to each other. When just one link in the chain is invoked, the entire chain rattles to life and wraps around the ankles of individuals interpellated by the discourse. This is why jokes and proverbs, quick and understated utterances, can evoke such powerful reactions; when we speak the same discursive language, it takes little more than a reference to a stereotype to invoke a much larger, and psychically invested, social meaning. These stereotypical discourses enable the creation and sense of ‘knowing’ other kinds of people, which enables the person wielding the stereotypes to assuage their own sense of internally contradictory and unknown ‘self’ with a chain of ‘self knowledge’ kept strong through articulation against ‘others.’ Slavery and the gendered ! ., 1385-1848   Between 1385 and 1844, every ethnic Romani person in the Romanian  principalities of Wallachia and Moldova was a slave, owned by the state,  by private landowners or the clergy. Enslaved Romani communities were called “ " .” from the name “ Tsiganoi .” All slaves were referred to in law as  robi , but this word was interchanged with " . in everyday life. By the sixteenth century, Tatar slaves of previous centuries had been freed or integrated, and only ethnic Roma were slaves, whom non-slaves called " . (Achim 2000: 29). The enslavement of Roma in Romania thus conflated ethnicity with the state of being a slave owned by a master; a Romani  person could not be free, and was articulated by all social, ethnic and class groups in Romania as unique in not only language and culture, but also in their inability to move out of the social category of slave. This Romani slave class constituted approximately 7% of the population of the Romanian principalities by the mid-nineteenth century, a large group that required constant legislative, physical and social subjugation and control (Kogalniceanu 1891, Potra 1939, Burtea 1993, Ionescu 2000, Petcut 2009, Hancock 1988). Romanian medieval society also divided humans into the binary gender categories of males and females, which were discursively constructed and  policed according to stereotypical discourses of masculinity and femininity. As in other European contexts, men constructed women (femininity tethered to a body discursively constructed as stable) as ‘the loyal but weak true mate of man, supposed to be permanently kept under the man’s control’ (Fodor 2009). Constructed as the weaker half in a binary sex system, those interpellated as women required protection as well as control,  Chapter Eight 178  and their place in medieval society was in the family and reproduction. Following the biblical story of the Garden of Eden, men interpellated themselves as rational and capable of moral reasoning and misplaced trust, while women were constructed as both susceptible to ‘evil’ and able to seduce men to their downfall. The Romanian, heterosexual male not only articulated his own identity against women as other, but also against " . slaves as always gendered, sexualised and ethnically differentiated others. All three categories of identity were articulated in law and in popular culture against every other group; a Romanian slave owner interpellated his wife as Romanian, woman, and as a sexual object in a social and personal context. Every individual interpellated as slave was not only ethnicised as ! ., but also gendered and sexualised. Romanian medieval historians agree that while women are only visible in historical written sources as the property of men, " . slaves rarely appear at all, except for the individual cases of slave owner documents and specific criminal cases (Mazilu 2008, Fodor 2009, Vintil # -Ghi $ ulescu 2013). This is an important point. While Romanian men defined themselves as such through legislative control of people interpellated as Romanian women, legislation left the control of slaves in the hands of the individual and society (Constantin 2009: 2). There can be no equivocation of Romanian women and slaves in Romanian medieval society. This is not a reading of the many specific and recorded instances of violence by free men against slaves to explore how the slave owners constituted their own gendered, sexual and ethnic identities through wounding slaves as gendered, sexualised and ethnic others. Rather, we will overview a specific methodological approach in brief, beginning with the meanings of legislation concerning slaves (mostly relating to the bodies of female slaves), which are significant in their rarity. To complement these sources, we will analyse some contemporaneous examples of everyday oral culture that articulated the stereotypical " . as slave and discuss the place of these sources in relation to legislation. Gender and slavery in Romanian legislation The division of " . slaves into binary gender categories was vital to slavery, as it was to society. Romanian legislators stereotyped the value of slaves in line with their own constructs of the supposedly biological and inherent traits of gender and sexuality. Across five centuries, Romani  people interpellated as male " . (stereotyped as physically stronger) were worth more in monetary terms than those designated female " ., who were  Antiziganism – What´s in a Word? 179 defined as the ‘weaker’ sex, although they were expected to reproduce and thus make more slaves for the owner. The slave owner chose when he sold slaves, including children (who were worth more money at physical maturity), and thus he controlled whether families stayed together. The main legislation concerning " . slaves across regions and periods was regarding the marriages of slaves. Extensive legal codes concerned forced marriages (allowed when the slave owner chose to partner his slaves) and the forced separation of married couples (allowed in all but a few legal codes). Laws regulated whether slaves could marry slaves owned  by a different master, or free men, and this was primarily related to ensuring that ‘free men’ remained separate from slaves in order to pay taxes to the state. Another consistency in legal codes was that children of slave women conceived through sex outside marriage would also be born slaves, so that the owner of the slave profited (Peretz 2000: 38). Slave owners could  punish slaves that committed crimes, but crimes against slaves were legally taken as crimes against the owner of the affected slave. Thus the murder of a slave by a free man could be repaired with replacement of the slave with one of equal value, as with any inanimate property. Similarly, the legal code decreed that if a man other than the slave owner damaged a slave girl or woman during sex, they had to pay reparations for damage to the slave’s owner, but this would not be considered rape when the victim was interpellated as " ., which was a common occurrence (Djuvara 1995: 272-75). This means that the Romanian legal system constructed slave women as available for sexual use by any man. Both male and female " . slaves were sexually abused with force, but it is the double construction of a female gendered " . ethnicity slave which is unique in law. As a slave, an individual has no free will and thus there is no place for consent or agency. As Saidiya Hartman details in her outstanding study of slavery in America, which is also fitting for this case, ‘the law’s circumscribed recognition of consent and will occurred only in order to intensify and secure the subordination of the enslaved, repress the crime, and deny injury, for it asserted that the captive female was both will-less and always willing’ (1997: 80). It is in this limited legislation regarding female slaves that we find the most evidence of how Romani women were constructed as " . by Romanian men. In order to define themselves as rightful (and Godly) owners of men, Romanian men had to constantly physically, psychologically and socially interpellate Romani individuals as " . in stereotypical discourses. As with discursive constructions of gender and sexuality, these discourses had to  Chapter Eight 180   pervade the total socially stratified context, including non-slave owning groups in society, in order to function. The " . was legally and socially constructed as heterosexual, and " . of both genders were stereotyped as intrinsically inferior, nomadic, incapable of understanding law, time, work, sexual self-control, or of living a settled “civilised” lifestyle without shackles, despite the everyday economic evidence that owners profited from the exact opposite being the case. While Romanian men articulated Romanian women as daughters, wives and widows in the legal and social codes as gendered others of ‘man’, the " . other as a group required control and domination as gendered and sexualised others who were not equal or free human, and so we turn to the social sphere to evidence the making of an other-than-human slave " . identity. Romanian folklore and the " . other Romanian jokes and proverbs from the period of slavery illustrate how all groups, including peasants, state administrators and slave owners, articulated the stereotypical " . for their own identity construction. Romanian folklorists of the nineteenth century relied on rural elites such as teachers and clerics to record popular proverbs and jokes (Bîrlea 1966). The first Romanian nationalists highly valued folkloric compilations,  perceiving proverbs and jokes as ‘naive forms of popular genius’(Vrabie 1947: 13) privileged over the discipline of history in the nationalist movement (Kogalniceanu: 86). The " . subject is the most common protagonist in collections of  proverbs, jokes and anecdotes from the time of slavery (Hintescu 1985; Stroescu 1975; Zanne 1895). " . characters are depicted as all the (internally contradictory) links in the stereotypical chain which functions still today; as lazy, clever, stupid, conniving, childlike, untrustworthy, nomadic, hypersexualised (men as rapists and women as promiscuous) and representatives of the impoverished who stand up against the upper classes. Usually depicted as animal in relation to human, a living creature amongst  but not of human society, peasants utilised the stereotypical construct of the " . to articulate their own identity as impoverished, but superior, free men. Two facts are striking. Firstly, there are quantitatively more stories,  jokes and proverbs about " . than about any other ethnic or gender group or topic across the genres. Secondly, while there are folk tales about " . women, always as seductive but evil witches, there are no jokes or proverbs in massive collections such as Zanne about " . women. Jokes and proverbs, which are shorter forms of popular communication than longer folktales,
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