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2015 Annual Meeting -- Abstracts of Open Panels

The  following five panels have been accepted for the Conference and will take place as discrete streams throughout the event.

Additional ‘non-topic specific’ panels and sessions will also take place. The deadline for receiving abstracts for all papers has been extended until the 15th of March 2015.

Цыганский язык и культура в странах бывшего СССР (Romani Language and
Culture in Post-Soviet States)

Working languages: English, Romani, Russian, Ukrainian

Organizers: Kirill Kozhanov, Mikhail Oslon,  Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of
Sciences, Moscow

This panel will discuss various issues related to Romani language and culture in Russia, Ukraine and
other former Soviet republics. Many Roma ethnic groups (e.g. Servy, Vlaxur’a, Plaš’una, etc.) inhabit
exclusively these territories and, as a result of a common history, share many linguistic,
ethnographic, and social peculiarities. In regions where Russian and Ukrainian are the majority
languages, Romani exhibits various typical contact phenomena shared by genetically and
typologically diverse linguistic varieties. As to specific Romani groups, one may note that, for
instance, the Kalderaš Roma living in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania form a single rather
closely-knit community both in terms of language and cultural identity (partially due to
intermarriage), quite distinct from the Kalderaš Roma in Poland, Sweden, France, etc. Thus, it makes
sense to discuss the various aspects of Romani life in linguistic, historical, and sociological
perspective, as limited specifically to the area in question. This is all the more important given that
many Roma groups of the former USSR remain undescribed. Given the ever-growing number of
Russian-language publications on Romani language and culture (cf. the recent volume Цыганский
язык в России, СПб, 2013), this panel will be of interest not only to researchers from these
countries, but also to all those wishing to learn more about the state of the field.

The process, practice, theory and implication of stereotyping and pathologising 
Gypsy, Traveller and Roma(ni) peoples within the security and justice systems.

Working languages: English.  Presentations in other languages will be accepted subject to written
confirmation by the presenter stating that they will ensure appropriate contemporaneous
translation into English e.g. by a co-presenter/colleague.

Organisers: Professor Dr Margaret Greenfields, Institute of Diversity Research, Inclusion,
Communities and Society (IDRICS), Buckinghamshire New University, UK; Dr David Smith, University
of Greenwich, UK; Jenni Berlin, doctoral candidate, University of East Finland/IDRICS. 

This open panel will invite papers which explore both contemporary and historical legislation, policy
and practice which negatively stereotype Romani and Traveller peoples as implicated in criminal or
anti-social behaviours.

Such tropes of ‘Gypsy criminality/perversion’, typically built upon pejorative folk narratives and
allegations of theft; child-stealing; spying, cannibalism and witchcraft which have become part of a
set of defamatory presumptions attached to  Romani/nomadic peoples across Europe and the wider
world, and are recorded throughout many centuries. The commonality and wide-spread nature of
this pathologising narrative has created fertile ground for a narrative of ‘out-of-placeness’ which
enables public (often media fuelled) and political discourse on ‘dangerous outsiders’ to pertain
(albeit usually in less florid terms) to the present day.

The increase in racist and xenophobic anti-Gypsy narratives and activities undertaken both by
individuals and state agencies in recent years is thus rooted in, and fed by historical precedent and
wide-spread a priori assumptions that ‘Gypsies’ are predatory outsiders to the nation-state collective
(regardless of their place of birth) who seek to exploit and abuse the ‘mainstream’ population
through being a burden on the state and individual communities amongst whom they live.

It can thus be posited that the deep rooted nature of such racist stereotypes means that regardless
of European-wide legislative and policy commitments to enhancing the status of Roma people and
presumptions of equality of treatment in the criminal and civil justice system, members of the
Romani communities are likely to be treated ‘differently’ at all stages of engagement with legal
processes when compared to ‘mainstream’ populations. Whether this occurs because of differing
legislative approaches to nomads or migrants in member states/nations, exclusionary processes
impacting on some increased risk of involvement in low-level criminal activities (e.g associated with
residence at certain unauthorised places, or crimes of poverty such as benefit fraud or shop-lifting),
or because of the impact of influential negative stereotypes on the discretionary decisions made by
individual representatives of security/policy and immigration agencies (or all of the above) is
currently open to intensive debate (see further the forthcoming report of the EARNS/Council of
Europe/Bucks New University funded seminar, London, December, 2014).

This panel welcomes papers which seek to explore and engage with the above themes. It is
anticipated that this panel may be of particular interest to scholars and activists in the following
(non-exclusive) fields: social policy; criminology; political science; socio-legal studies; history;
genocide studies and anthropology. 

Group Boundary-Making: Dynamics of Categorization, Belonging, Inclusion, and Exclusion of Roma/Gypsies.

Organisers: Dr Katya Dunajeva, School of English and American Studies,
Eötvös Loránd University,
Hungary;  Heather Tidrick, Doctoral candidate, Anthropology, University of Michigan, USA

As the work of many scholars from various academic fields has demonstrated, boundaries that
delineate the difference between “us” and “them” are not static or fixed. Rather, they shift over
time for numerous reasons, such as historical events, social movements, or policy initiatives aimed
at (re)constructing a nation or a group in particular ways. Our panel explores these dynamics as they
relate to Roma.

How have group boundaries that determine inclusion or exclusion of Roma changed over time,
whether locally or globally? How and through what mechanisms are such boundaries constituted,
and how are they maintained? What criteria have been used to identify who belongs to a given
nation, who is Roma (or what “Roma” means) and who is not? How and why have these criteria
changed over time? What factors have contributed to shifts in these boundaries? Who has been
empowered to define these boundaries? Who are the major actors in boundary-making, and what
motivates them? What rhetorical strategies are employed to present such boundaries as a social
fact? What are the stakes in establishing or maintaining a particular set of boundaries; who are the
stakeholders? What have been the consequences of particular systems of inclusion or exclusion for
Roma people? Where, when, and under what circumstances do Roma people resist boundaries that
determine their inclusion or exclusion?

We are particularly interested in various topics exploring “levels” of belonging—the latent tension or
complementarity between discourses situating Roma as a minority within one locality, society, or
nation-state, or as part of a transborder or non-territorial nation. We are also interested in social
processes of boundary-making and boundary maintenance, both external and internal to Roma
groups, and how they constrain or enable particular individual and group identities for Roma people.

We welcome historical or contemporary inquiries alike that look at specific case studies, employ a
comparative approach, or study the issue on a national or regional level. 

This is an interdisciplinary panel and we invite contributions related to ethnicity, nationality, religion,
sex/gender, sexuality, class, intersectionality, language, and the body, among other factors; from
scholars in a range of disciplines including, but not limited to: history, anthropology, sociology,
religious studies, legal studies, gender studies, queer studies, kinship studies, political science, music,
ethnomusicology, theatre or performance studies, literature, and folklore.

 Possible approaches could include topics including (but certainly not limited to) the following:
  •  Nationalism and its relationship to Roma exclusion or inclusion
  •  Roma ethnic identity politics – and political identities
  •  Dynamics of class, sex/gender, sexuality, age, kinship, or ethnic subgroup among Roma/Gypsies
  •  Social processes around stigma or marime category within Roma communities
  •  Social policy and/or programs targeting Roma minorities
  •  Roma empowerment movement
  •  Roma representation in national histories, and/or historiography of Roma history

Recovering unwritten histories of the Roma Holocaust: the deportation of Romanian
Roma to Transnistria 1942-44.

Organiser: Professor R U W Schulze, Department of History and Human Rights Centre, University of
Essex, UK.

The Roma Holocaust has long been an ‘untold’ story of the Holocaust. Whilst in Germany and
western Europe the Roma Holocaust is now slowly being acknowledged, with a narrative that uses
Auschwitz as a common place and a common symbol of the genocide for both Roma and Jews, it has
been much more difficult in eastern and south-eastern Europe to include the history of Roma
persecution in the general narrative of the Holocaust: the Roma experience was very different, and it
was the local regimes who ordered and implemented the persecution.

The deportation of some 25,000 Romanian Roma to Transnistria in the years 1942-44 is a case in
point. Long ignored and ‘forgotten’, it is only recently that a few scholarly articles and film
documentaries have addressed this question, and it is still a long way before it will be part of the
common collective memory in Romania and beyond. By now, most of the survivors of these
deportations have died, they have left almost no testimonies, and there are very few written
How can such an ‘unwritten’ history be recovered and told, not least in the light of the continuing
discrimination and marginalisation of the Roma and controversies over their compensation and
restitution? This panel aims to bring together historians, anthropologists, social scientists and
filmmakers to address this question in a multi-disciplinary and multi-media approach.

It is intended to link this Panel with a screening of the documentary Valley of Sighs (produced by
ISPMN (Institute for Studying National Minorities) and TRIBA Film; Romania 2013); Mihai Andrei
Leaha, one of the authors, directors and producers of this documentary has agreed to attend and be
available for Q/A. The convenor is particularly keen to receive abstracts/presentations from Roma
community members who wish to participate in this panel.

The politics of reproduction and Roma in Eastern Europe’s 20th Century.

Organiser: Dr Eszter Varsa, Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg, Germany.

Reproductive policies and practices rely on as well as construct different forms of inclusion and
exclusion, among many others, along the angles of gender and ethnicity. From direct involvement by
banning abortions to more indirect methods of family support and welfare policies, the official
politics of reproduction in 20th century Eastern Europe was predominantly pro-natalist. This politics
fitted a long-term tradition of concern about the “dying of the nation” that was characteristic to
imperial politics and nation state-building processes in different European regions in the 19th and
20th centuries. At the same time, authorities of newly formed East-European nation states were also
alarmed about the size of certain (ethnic) population groups, such as Roma. With specific focus on
Roma, this panel examines how the “facts” of the “alarming” increase/decrease of (ethnic)
population groups in 20th century Eastern Europe were constructed. Particular attention is paid to
continuities in reproductive discourses and practices across historical time and place.

Instructions for submission of abstracts to panel/conference: Individuals who wish to submit a
paper should ensure that their abstract in plain text format (no tables or charts) is sent in the body
of an e-mail message (not as an attachment) in English to the Program Chair, Dr. Ion DUMINICA,,  subject line 2015 GLS Annual Meeting and Conference by 15
March 2015.

In addition to the above listed ‘panels’ the usual open call pertains in that submissions made be
made by potential speakers without identifying a particular panel/stream to which they wish to
submit. The organising committee will then allocate selected papers to sessions depending upon
interests or thematic areas which emerge.

Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words in length, include the author’s name, institutional
affiliation (if relevant), address, daytime telephone, e-mail address and must specify if they are to be
considered for a named panel or regarded as an ‘open’ submission.  Please address all conference
inquiries to or by telephone +37379537572.

Abstracts will be peer-reviewed by the academic organising committee, which includes
representatives of the Gypsy Lore Society Board of Directors and local organisers. If your paper is
submitted to a panel, convenors of the particular panel will also review the abstract.

Each approved participant will only be entitled to make a single presentation at the conference.

Please note that the closing date for submissions to both panels and for individual papers has been
extended from March 2nd to March 15, 2015.

You will be notified if your contribution has been accepted by April 6th 2015.

More information about the conference will be published in forthcoming issues of the Newsletter of
the Gypsy Lore Society, and on the Gypsy Lore Society web site,