News from our Graduate Students: PhD Candidate Chase Stamper

Submitted by Michael Neininger on
Chase Stamper, 2018

This quarter marks a significant milestone in the overall process of my dissertation: the completion and submission of my first chapter draft. The project as a whole takes Spivak’s well-known postcolonial essay, Can the Subaltern Speak?, as a point of departure in an examination of a minority group that has faced a historically unique sort of oppression—the Roma. In this work, I strive to expand the definition of communication across societal power strata, demonstrating that while European Gazhe (non-Roma) authors and the forces of colonialism and fetishizing exoticism have shaped the image of the Rom in the cultural imagination without either consent or input from the people they purport to represent, the Roma are not, in fact, silent in the matter, and use the language of their oppressors subversively in order to navigate the social sphere. Utilizing texts from Gazhe authors, such as Achim von Arnim, Victor Hugo, and Gottfried Keller as a means of surveying the established language available regarding the Roma, the dissertation goes on to examine samples of Roma authorship, both in the form of autobiographical novels intended for a wide public audience, and collections of poems and folktales traditionally composed by and for Roma, in order to better understand Roma self-representation and their use of the Gazhe’s own tropes to comment on their oppression.