Adriana Helbig

Jan 19, 2024

ReSounding Poverty

Romani Music and Development Aid

Oxford University Press 2023

Adriana Helbig's book ReSounding Poverty: Romani Music and Development Aid (Oxford University Press, 2023) offers a micro ethnography of economic networks that impact the daily lives of Romani musicians on the borders of the former Soviet Union and the European Union. It argues that the development aid allotted to provide economic assistance to Romani communities, when analyzed from the perspective of the performance arts, continues to marginalize the poorest among them. Through their structure and programming, NGOs choose which segments of the population are the most vulnerable and in the greatest need of assistance. 

Drawing on ethnographic research in development contexts, ReSounding Poverty asks who speaks for whom within the Romani rights movement today. Framing the critique of development aid in musical terms, it engages with Romani marginalization and economic deprivation through a closer listening to vocal inflections, physical vocalizations of health and disease, and emotional affect. ReSounding Poverty brings us into the back rooms of saman, mud and straw brick, houses not visited by media reporters and politicians, amplifying the cultural expressions of the Romani poor, silenced in the business of development.

Maggie Freeman is a PhD candidate in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East.

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Maggie Freeman

Maggie Freeman is a PhD candidate in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East.

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