This article examines the political formula of Romanestan as conceived by Ionel Rotaru (1918–1982), a Romanian refugee in France after the Second World War. Romanestan is the most visible aspect of an ambitious plan demanding rights for those labelled Gypsies throughout the world. This study is of interest because it sheds new light on the problems of social and political readjustment after the Second World War from the standpoint of racial exclusion. Rotaru’s project was both the response to longstanding historical racist aggression and also a crucial turning point in the formation of Romani ethnic identity. What makes its study interesting is that the formula of the Romanestan wove the right to exist of those regarded as Gypsies into a creative transnational political project. Based on classified documents, this article highlights the political nature of processes of ethnicization and assesses the performative power of symbols.