2022 Annual Meeting: Open Panel Abstracts

Roma slavery meets slavery studies

Organiser: Julieta Rotaru, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Paris

Although recognised as a horrific form of privation of social liberty, the Roma slavery is not anchored in the grand research of slavery studies. It does not find a chapter in The Historical Encyclopaedia of World Slavery (1997), Dictionnaire des esclavages (2010), etc. Similarly, the newest reference work, Les Mondes de l'esclavage (2021), which does not content to treat only with hegemonic slavery (antique, Islamic, American plantation slavery, etc), but with a large range of restriction of social liberty, in regions never studied before, does not include the Roma slavery in the discussion. In 2021 Europe celebrated 20 years since the Taubira Bill to Recognize Colonial Trafficking and Slavery as a Crime Against Humanity which ushered the UK promoted Modern Slavery Act 2015, the first legislation of its kind. In 2021 an important study on the position of the Orthodox Church in the Roma emancipation from slavery was published (Achim, 2021). Geopolitically, the Danubian Principalities are an intersection of Christian and Muslim civilizations, the Catholic West, and Orthodox Byzantium, a space for synthesis of several political, economic, and social institutions taken over or transposed. Robia (Roma slavery) may represent such a local synthesis which is unlike the sin-induced slavery taught in the Bible, and different from the Roman slavery of the Principalities’ past. There were many restrictions on social freedom here, ranging from serfdom and slavery (v. Achim 2021 for other slaves in the region, such as Tatars) to subservient peasantry, to Țigani as rob slaves. They could be attached to ecclesiastical institutions (Orthodox and Catholic, see Gaunt and Rotaru 2021) or belong to private owners, mostly from old aristocratic families, and a few numbers of them belonged to the Crown or the State. The duration of the Gypsy slavery is estimated from the first document mentioning the term Țigan, 1385, until the last official Emancipation in the 1850s. It is almost unanimously accepted by researchers and activists that Roma slavery is not enough studied. There is however a historiography of Roma slavery since the time of Emancipation, and “national” schools of slavery research existed mainly engaged in narratives of Gypsy enslavement as an institution presented as worse in others than in Romania. Although the Marxists questioned what binds oppression and the regime of production, the Roma slavery was not recognised in Romanian historiography in the second half of the twentieth century, while the favourite subjects were economic agrarian relations. This taboo might be due to the incompatibility between the image of slavery and the national heroes (Piasere, 2016). The subject reappeared in the 1990s and it is one of the questions of this panel to see why. Patrick Manning (2007: 19-20) noted that the legacy of slavery has provided the principal motivation for conducting research in slavery study. The question of reparation was raised, not only as trauma reparation but also as an explanation of the contemporary society in which the Roma leave. The panel calls papers from all fields on research on Roma slavery, slave condition, data about slave trade, singularity of Roma slavery, intersection of racism with slavery in developing the centuries long Roma segregation and exclusion, representation and imagology, etc.


Achim, Viorel. (2021) “The Orthodox Church and the Emancipation of Gyspy Slaves in the Romanian Principalities in the 19th century.” In: Slavery in the Black Sea Region. Forms of unfreedom at the Intersection between Christianity and Islam, Felicia Roșu (ed.), Leiden: Brill, 117-143.

Dictionnaire des esclavages (2010), Pétré-Grenouilleau, Olivier (ed.), Paris: Larousse.

Gaunt, David and Rotaru, Julieta (2021) “The Living Conditions of Gypsy Slaves in Early Nineteenth Century Wallachia.” Romani Studies, series 5, 31 (1): 30-55. https://doi.org/10.3828/rs.2021.3

Rodriguez, Junius P (1997) The Historical Encyclopaedia of World Slavery, Santa Barbara, California.

Les Mondes de l'esclavage. Une histoire comparée (2021), Paulin Ismard (ed.), Paris : Seuil.

Manning, Patrick (2007) “Legacies of Slavery. Comparisons of Labour and Culture.” In: Legacies of Slavery. Comparative perspectives. Maria Suzette Fernandes Dias (ed.), Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 16-34.

Piasere, Leonardo (2016) “Karl Marx et les roms des Principautés Roumaines,” Études Tsiganes 56-57 (1) : 235‒60.

Methodological challenges on Roma cesearch: Between old and new challenges, what decisions to take in order to have valid results?

Panel organisers: Olga Magano and Maria Manuela Mendes, Cies_Iscte, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa e Universidade Aberta, Lisboa, Portugal

International research on Roma in the Social Sciences poses some well-identified methodological challenges. On the one hand, the systematic absence of statistical data in some countries, which prevents the carrying out of quantitative studies based on representative samples of the populations residing in each country, their size and sociodemographic characteristics, as well as their living conditions; in others where this is possible, there is an underestimation of those who self-identify as Roma. On the other hand, the difficulties of access to Roma people are also frequently mentioned, especially those who are in strong contexts of school poverty. In addition to the fact that most of the studies produced reflect investigations carried out with “visible” Roma (that lived in “clusters” and in limited space), that is, those who are best known by local authorities or social support institutions. So, often, the research on Roma put methodological challenges in terms of strategies to be adopted to study a population that is difficult to approach because, sometimes, some of these people lives in excluded, stigmatized, segregated, discriminated territories and also due to the impossibility of obtaining official statistical data on this population.

This panel goal is to promote the presentation of investigative experiences in different countries, the report of difficulties experienced, the challenges posed and the options taken during the investigations. We are also interested in knowing the methodological solutions found to continue research projects in the last two years, in the context of a global pandemic, which also forced readjustments and reinventing research methodologies. Thus, the objective is to know and share experiences about different methodological practices and the respective contours of research contexts and their readjustments, whether with regard to qualitative, quantitative, mixed, participatory methodologies and also in terms of co-design and combination strategies of several methodologies.

Roma settlements

Panel organiser: Daniel Petrovski, ethnologist and anthropologist, Marko Cepenkov Folklore Institute, Skopje, Republic of Northern Macedonia

The theme of the panel "Roma Settlements" is a topic that has not been developed so far in any of the social sciences and especially in history, anthropology, ethnology and sociology. There are different statistics on the number of Roma in Europe and the world. However, these details are unofficial and are based on assumptions by Roma activists, NGOs and international organizations. However, the number of Roma can not be said with accuracy because the Census as a static operation is structurally and methodologically different in each country on the one hand and on the other hand depends on the social order of the countries themselves.

The largest presence of Roma is observed in the European continent. Historically, the Roma have always lived on the outskirts of cities, along rivers or some slopes or mountainous places. Some authors point out that such a way of life enabled the Roma to maintain their culture and language and thus their identity. Over time, the sedentary nature of the Roma enabled the formation of their own permanent residences with their families. Over time, these settlements became settlements with a majority Roma population. Precisely because of this, these settlements get different names from non-Roma, which over time become the name of the settlement and among the Roma themselves. Roma culture and language exist in those settlements.

However, in science there are only a limited number of published papers on a particular Roma settlement, which will provide historiographical data, social, material and spiritual culture, education, housing, health, employment and social status within the country. This panel intends to fill this gap as it is important for Romani studies in order to map Roma settlements in the world and to make cartography for them.

Ethical issues in Romani Studies (open panel)

Organisers: Jan Červenka and Markéta Hajská, Romani Studies Seminar at the Department of Central European Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University (Czech Republic)

Ethical issues have been accepted more and more in (not just) social sciences in the last decades and we hope Romani studies scholars have a special need of permanent rethinking of these issues. Although there are several codes of ethics useful for particular subdisciplines of Romani studies, most of us combine the methods of these subdisciplines and to some extent different ethical principles. Also, none of the codes of ethics can solve every dilemma we come across in real research, in real publications, in real life. We hope it is necessary to discuss and to inspire each other with various aspects of ethics in Romani studies.

This panel will facilitate a discussion of ethical issues, dilemmas and challenges in Romani Studies. Panel participants should clearly articulate their contribution to the discussion of ethical aspects in Romani Studies. Possible questions for consideration include:

  • Different aspects of responsibility to the surveyed Roms in the research: field research always raises the question of how to act in particular situations, how to follow the rule “researchers must be open about the purpose(s), potential impacts, and source(s) of support for research projects with funders, colleagues, persons studied or providing information, and with relevant parties affected by the research.”

  • Fulfilling responsibility to the surveyed Roms in data analysis and publication is necessary, but of course raises questions of how to be open to both communities, the surveyed community and the academic one when the researcher‘s conclusions are different from the community`s self-image. Also, responsibility for the image of Roms in general when publishing about a specific Romani community is often disregarded; it would be good to bring this to attention. The above mentioned responsibilities may be in conflict with the responsibility to the scientific community for integrity, completeness and truthfulness of presented data and it would be interesting to rethink ways to avoid these conflicts.

  • How to solve the problems of intellectual property? Papers about work with resources and avoidance of plagiarism in the presentation of outputs to the lay public are also welcome.

  • What are the problems and paradoxes of the researcher`s ethnicity in Romani studies? For example our opinion is that a Romani researcher sometimes is disadvantaged. He or she is not a real insider in the surveyed community but the community does not respect his outsidership. Also it is sometimes more difficult for him or her to leave behind his own emic perspective when regarding the community. Of course non-Romani researchers also have their own ethical dilemmas.

  • Papers on the naming of Roms and the use of language in outputs in general as seen from an ethical perspective are also strongly welcome.

Pal o Roma romanes / Pa Rom romanes (panel in Romani)

Organisers: Markéta Hajská and Jan Červenka, Romani Studies Seminar at the Department of Central European Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University (Czech Republic)

Pal o Roma romanes

Pro konferencii GLS sas dži akana konferenčno čhib jekhbuter angliciko. Amen paťas, hoj the romaňi čhib šaj chasňaras andro diskusii pal o romisticka buťa the disciplini u hoj the e romaňi čhib šaj jekhetaňarel eksperten pal buter lumakere thema.

Vašoda o panelos nane definimen temaha, aľe čhibaha: the o referati the o diskusii musaj te jel andre romaňi čhib. Užaras referati butere subdisciplinendar romane študiendar (sar hin lingvistika, etnologia, historia, literarno vaj bašavibnaskero džaniben…) O vakeribena musaj te jel pre učo džanibnaskero levelos, no mangas tumen: musaj len te achaľol the o džene pal o aver džanibnaskre disciplini.

Ole paneloha kamas (pašavreste) te sikhavel, hoj pal e romaňi tematika šaj diskutinas pro džanibnaskero levelos andre romaňi čhib. Imar andro berš 2021 kerďam ajso panelos pre konferencia GLS Prahate u has ašardo. Šaj dikhen pro streamos romaňa televiziatar:


O abstrakti bičhaven the andre romaňi romaňi čhib the angliciko (kampel soduj verzii). O kompletna referati pre konferencia ena ča romanes.

Pa Rom romanes

Pej GLS konferencii ži ákánik mindik vorbijas pe maj but englišicka šibasa Ame paťas, hoď pa kadal phušimátura andaj intrégone akademickíva búťa šaj vorbinas vi romanes. Romana šibasa šaj vorbin khetánes le akademikura pi cára luma, taj šaj haťáren peske le ekspertura andaj sa intrégi thema. Kado paneli naj anglal dino la témasa, de la šibasa: i vorba (vi prezentácia, vi diskuzia) si t´avel feri romanes. Azír lešinas le referátura andaj akharsoske disciplíni romane studijendar (sar si lingvistika, etnologia, historia, literatura vaj romano arto). Kadal referátura si t´avel iskirime maj zurálasa akademickíva vorbasa, de vi kadej, hoď šaj haťáren la vorbake vi le manuš andaj áver disciplíni.

Kadale panelosa kamas te sikhavas, hoď pa sogodi romani tématika del pe te vorbij romana šibasa. Aba abdo berš 2021 kerdam kecavo paneli pi konferencia GLS andi Prága taj sas ašardo. Šaj dikhen po streamo andaj románi televizia:


Le abstraktura trobuj te bišavel sel duje šibenca: englišicka vi romanes. Pi konferencia vorbija pe fere (numa) romanes.

Panel in Romani

The common language of the Gypsy Lore Society conferences has been primarily English. We believe that Romani can also play the role of a language of common academic discussion about different issues and disciplines in Romani studies, which can connect the experts from different countries. The panel is thus not defined by its topic, but by the common language of their presentation: both the contributions and discussion must be in Romani language. This panel is thematically open, papers in any field of Romani Studies (e.g. linguistics, ethnology, history, theory of Romani literature or art) are accepted. That is why papers should be on high academic level but contributors are asked to make them comprehensible for researchers from different scientific disciplines.

One of the aims of this panel will be to show the possibility of Romani language use in speaking about any topics on scientific level. We organized such a panel already within the GLS conference in 2021 in Prague and it was successful. See the Romani TV`s stream here:


Contributors are asked to send their abstract in two language versions, both English and Romani. The language of their papers will be only Romani.

Roma in the period between WWI and WWII

Organisers: Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov, School of History, St Andrews University, UK

This panel is a continuation of successful panels from 2018, 2019 and 2021 that originated from the ERC project ‘RomaInterbellum. Roma Civic Emancipation between the Two World Wars’. It aims at addressing one of the still under-researched topics in Romani Studies, namely the history of the Roma in the period between WWI and WWII. This period represented an era of significant changes worldwide, which encompassed numerous fields, such as, to list a few: the breakdowns of old Empires, re-drawing of borders, beginning of new world relations on a macro-level along with new inter-ethnic relations on micro-levels, a huge movement of populations, the birth of new nation-states, rise of nationalism and internationalism, peace arrangements and exchange of populations, civil wars, important developments in interwar diplomacy and international relations, growth of economies, stagnation and depression, novel social, ideological and cultural trends and innovations, and others. This turnover not only marked the beginning of a new stage in world history but also, on a micro-level, it impacted the living strategies and visions about the future of Roma communities worldwide.

The point of departure of this panel is the fact that Roma in their history were never a hermetically isolated social and cultural system. They existed, and continue to exist nowadays, in two dimensions. On the one hand, as separate ethnic communities and on the other hand as part of the macro-societies in which they live within the respective nation-states. Along with the members of the macro-societies they experienced great changes and turbulences such as the breakdowns of old Empires, the establishment of nation-states and processes of modernisation. In this time span, Roma started to be politically institutionalised, instrumentalised and subjected to a variety of controversial policy practices. Most importantly for this panel, at the same time, they started to develop their own visions for the development of their communities, both on local and international levels.

This year's panel aims again to bring together researchers from different disciplinary fields and it seeks further studying of the impact of the Interbellum period on Roma communities. The panel is especially interested in presentations that look at Roma not only as passive recipients of policy measures but also as active architects (agents) of their own lives. The aim is together with papers studying pieces of evidence reflecting state policies regarding Roma to include presentations that analyse the appearance and development of social and political projects proposed by Roma.

Female Romani Literatures: (re-)writing and empowerment

Panel organizers: Marina Ortrud M. Hertrampf, University of Passau (Germany); Lorely French, Pacific University (USA); Ileana D. Chirila, University of New Hampshire (USA); Oksana Marafioti, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (USA)

The history of written Romani literature is only about 100 years old, and thus Romani literatures are still being defined and consolidated. The special feature of this young literature is, on the one hand, that it is a multilingual diasporic world literature and, on the other hand, that female authors play a prominent role: Papusza (Bronisława Wajs), a Romani woman, was the first to take up the pen and establish Romani literature as written literature. It is conspicuously often female authors who achieve visibility with their texts on the national book markets. Some authors appear in their texts as committed feminists and/or human rights activists. For other authors, sexuality and gender play a less prominent role in their works. Additionally, women often also play a very central role in texts by male authors.

In our panel we therefore, on the one hand, want to deal with literary works by female authors. Papers will examine, for example, how the act of writing is frequently an act of self-empowerment and how literary writing can thus often be described as engaged literature. On the other hand, the panel will also look at the representation of female protagonists in works by male authors. Comparative analyses might ask how are Romani women represented in texts by male authors, and how in those by female authors? Are there differences? And if so, how are they to be evaluated? The aim of the panel is to sketch a broad picture of Romnya in the literature of Romani authors and to investigate whether significant gender differences exist.

Title of the panel: Marian devotion among the Roma

Organiser: Tatiana Zachar Podolinská, Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology SAS Bratislava, Slovakia

The objective of the open panel is to explore various local/national forms of Marian devotion among the Roma as they are embedded in a particular ethnic/cultural context of an unwritten system of rules and values of various Gypsy/Roma communities worldwide. The aim is to elucidate if there is a process of ‘appropriation’ of mainstream forms of Marian devotion in a manner of enculturation and ethnicisation in which the Virgin Mary (eventually other female Saint) is culturally ‘translated’ and ethnically ‘transcribed’ in order to better fit the needs Gypsy/Roma communities. Ethnographies of these ethno-cultural religious variants of Marian devotion, local or translocal festivals, rites, places, objects or iconic figures are appreciated. Theoretical conceptual studies devoted to the process of accommodation, cultural translation and implementation of ethnic innovations into the Marian devotion are especially appreciated, since in this context we need to clear the ground for theoretical discussions and to re-think former key-terms used in this concern (religious change, acculturation, adaptation, assimilation, syncretism, exotism, conservatism, etc.).


Zachar Podolinská, T. (2021). Marian Devotion among the Roma in Slovakia. Palgrave 2021. DOI: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-56364-6.

Zachar Podolinská, T. (2021). Traditional Romani Christianity vs Pentecostal and neo-Protestant Christianity: A grounded picture of religiosity and spirituality among the Roma in the twenty-first century in Slovakia, Romani Studies (2021), 31 (2): 155-188. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3828/rs.2001.9.

Zachar Podolinská, T. – Hrustič, T. (2021). Religiosity and spirituality among the Gypsy/Roma in the twenty-first century Europe: Theoretical framing and ethnographic perspectives, Romani Studies (2021), 31 (2): 143-154. https://doi.org/10.3828/rs.2001.8.