Panel Abstracts 2021
2021 Annual Meeting of the Gypsy Lore Society
and Conference on Romani Studies
Abstracts of approved open panels
The panels are open for contributions by any researchers interested in the topics indicated. All proposals should be submitted in doc, docx or rtf format to: gls2021Prague@ff.cuni.cz. Deadline for submission of papers 7 March 2021.
Anthropology and History in Romani Studies
Conveners: Grégoire Cousin (Verona University, Italy), Vita Zalar (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Slovenia)
History and anthropology have had a long, fruitful, and epistemologically challenging past of theoretical and empirical encounters, exchanges and cooperations. These have even resulted in new research subfields, for example historical anthropology, socio-cultural anthropology, anthrohistory, and anthropology of history. Historiographical and anthropological methods have been converging and benefitting from mutual encounters. For example, while socio-cultural anthropologists are extending the field of their inquiries to incorporate archival sources, historians have turned to oral interactions as a major historical source. We strongly believe that this interdisciplinary dialogue shows great potential for future research. We also believe that Romani studies have already accommodated this dialogue. It has already been shown, for example, that the institutional archives in our countries are full of traces of Romani groups’ lengthy presence in Europe but, at the same time, that overlappings, inconsistencies, and silences between oral histories and memories of those involved in historical events and archival accounts of the same events are always possible. It has also been shown that Romani group ethnography can be combined fruitfully with archival research by constituting, case by case, varied forms of “historical anthropologies” or “ethno-histories” or “regressive histories” or “anthropological histories”.
In this panel we invite you to explore the dynamics of hybridization in history and anthropology in the field of Romani studies. Papers are solicited on critical reflections on using a combination of archival and ethnographic methods, on the different regimes of historicity observed, on the intersections between archival and oral histories and memories, as well as between missing archival traces and significant silences. We are also interested in presentations that can demonstrate and comment on failed attempts at bridging the interdisciplinary gaps.
Possible questions for consideration include:
How have historians implemented anthropological knowledge and its methods (the rise of oral history, memory studies)?
How is reflexivity practiced in anthropology and history?
What impact has the anthropological concept of identity and ethnicity had on historiographical research?
What are the relations between institutional histories, circumstantial histories and oral histories; what are the relations between histories and memories?
How can the concept “regimes of historicity” (Hartog, 2003) and the social construction of time in different societies be addressed in Romani studies?
How have different groups constructed their own “stories” and the relation between “history” and “myth”?
What are the possible ways of combining archival and ethnographic research in an anthropological perspective (Sahlins 2000)?
How is “engaged scholarship” (Berger 2019) perceived in anthropology and history?
Since an increasing number of researchers are involved in these questions on an international scale, this panel aims to assess the state of the art of research, as well as create space and time for mutual reflection; starting, above all, from a comparison of currently ongoing case studies and research projects. The organizers of this panel wish to encourage a continuation of the discussions from the panel Anthropologies and Histories of Romani groups from the 2019 Gypsy Lore Society Annual Meeting in Reykjavík.
F. Hartog. Régimes d'historicité. Présentisme et expérience du temps. Paris: Le Seuil, 2003.
M. Sahlins. Culture in practice : selected essays. New-York: Zone Books, 2000.
S. Berger (ed.). The Engaged Historian : Perspectives on the Intersections of Politics, Activism and the Historical Profession. New York - Oxford: Berghahn, 2019.
Conceptualizing Antigypsyism: Prospects for Theoretical Developments and Empirical Research Opportunities
Convener: Václav Walach (Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, CR)
Originating in the 1930s and forgotten for about half a century, the concept of antigypsyism nowadays lies at the core of efforts to understand the marginalization, segregation and persecution of social groups that are stigmatized using the notion of 'Gypsies' or related terms. This panel attempts to discuss, elaborate or challenge the recent developments in conceptualizing antigypsyism and applying the concept within empirical research.
Papers that address these issues from a variety of theoretical positions and methodologies are welcome. A special place will be granted to the papers that are based on studies attentive to the micro level. The ethnographic sensibility and focus on everyday realities and dynamic, often contradictory interactions, seem necessary lest antigypsyism be stripped of the complexity and messiness that characterize human existence.
The comparative perspective is also appreciated, whether longitudinal or cross-sectional. Although it may prove vital to conceive of antigypsyism as an abstract entity for academic purposes, knowledge is always historically situated, material and embedded. How has the image of 'Gypsy' evolved in time? Does this image change when we move from the East to West and from South to North? What happens when one is labelled with this imagery? And when does a stereotype become an auto-stereotype and vice versa?
Last but not least, antigypsyism often interacts with other forms of racism such as anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. Papers that adhere to this perspective will be accepted if they contribute to the specification of antigypsyism as a unique form of racism. How does antigypsyism differ from anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in terms of the imaginery they produce? Answering this question in the current situation may stipulate further research in the area.
Antigypsyism is both an analytical concept and lived experience. In order to have antigypsyism as a productive field of research, a close relationship between conceptual and research work seems essential. The panel will stress this connection, sketching directions for future inquiry.
Contemporary Challenges and Futures of Roma Housing
Conveners: Ewa Nowicka, Collegium Civitas, Poland; Maciej Witkowski, WSB University, Poland
The problem of providing Roma housing and the Roma's relationship to housing space has been the frequent subject of social research. In Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the efforts of researchers have focused on the problem of Roma adapting to life in housing which they have received as a result of the policy for their settlement or their “integration”. That research has usually concentrated on social and adaptation problems. Contrary to the intentions of the authors of such a social policy, the consequences of the settlement programmes and social support for Roma communities were the creation of slums and poverty-stricken housing estates. The additional consequences of such an ill thought out housing policy have turned out to be (ostensible) assimilation, but also various forms of degenerative behaviour on a scale not known previously. Solutions which lead to positive effects are still being searched for, but good solutions can only arise from systematically comparing the housing situation of Roma in different countries.
Environmental Justice for Roma
Conveners: Jekatyerina Dunajeva (Department of Political Studies, Pazmany Peter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary), Joanna Kostka (Department of Social Work, University of Lancaster, UK), Daniel Škobla (Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia), Richard Filčák (Institute for Forecasting, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia)
This panel aims to provide a forum for a critical dialogue surrounding race/ethnicity and its intersection with environmental justice, encompassing the dimension of distributive and procedural justice. Exposure to environmental threats, access to natural resources and benefits are strongly influenced by racial and socio-economic factors: environmental (in)justice works alongside the structural violence of poverty and neoliberal practices of the state. However, these forms of violence receive little exposure or priority within discussions on the marginalisation of Europe’s Roma minority. Furthermore, even less attention is paid to Roma communities’ struggle for environmental justice, thus obscuring the ongoing mobilisation against powerful forces driven increasingly by neoliberal imperatives.
With this panel we aim to create a platform for discussing key issues pertaining to environmental justice for Roma, such as proposals and recommendations for essential changes and improvements in the legal system; existing policies necessary for achieving climate and environmental justice for Roma; critical analysis of the current state of racial environmental discrimination; case studies of environmental (in)justice, and the like.
Groups Understood as Gypsies with no Romani Heritage: Similarities and Differences
Conveners: Anthony Leroyd Howarth (University of Cambridge), Freya Hope (University of Oxford)
Throughout the world there are many groups assumed to be, or classified as, Gypsies and Roma that do not have any Romani heritage. This is not simply a matter of politically imposed definitions but is also due to popular understandings, both of which disregard, or perhaps overlook, distinct migratory histories, cultural practices and inter/intra group differences. That notwithstanding, many non-Romani groups share a history of persecution from their respective ‘host’ societies, engage in similar economic activities and are afflicted with appalling health outcomes.
The aim of this panel is to engage scholars of groups without Romani heritage that have in some way been categorised as Gypsies or Roma. Its broad aim is to invite papers focusing on any aspect of non-Romani groups’ lifeways in order to explore intra and inter-group similarities and differences. In other words, the panel seeks to productively employ comparison to examine the particular with a view towards the general. The purpose of this endeavour is to investigate why it is that groups with different histories, often living in different places and holding distinct beliefs, end up experiencing similar circumstances.
Although papers examining any aspect of non-Romani groups’ lifeways are welcomed, the panel invites papers focusing on economic practices and gambling, health and well-being, and ideological and cosmological conceptions of in/out group identity. These can be theoretical pieces, ethnographic portraits (whether experimental or analytical), historical accounts, and more applied work from public health, legal studies and social policy, which address questions such as: What exactly is a Gypsy? How is this category constituted, imagined, repudiated? To what extent does the legalistic and ethnic categorisation of Gypsy/Roma affect non-Romani groups’ identities and lifeways? How do groups with no Romani heritage creatively employ or reimagine the Gypsy category to their own advantage? What economic activities do these groups engage in? Is work part of an ideology of manhood, if so, how is women’s work understood? What kinds of gambling practices do these groups engage in? Is gambling solely the domain of men, or are woman involved? Is gambling simply a waste of time and money, or is it culturally significant? How do these groups order in-group/out-group relations? Can this ordering of worlds be considered cosmological, ideological, or something else? What are the mortality and morbidity outcomes for these groups? What are the factors that impinge upon their poor health? Do they have cultural conceptions of health and illness and, if so, what do these consist of?
International Romani Literature(s): Approaches to a “New” World Literature
Conveners: Lorely French (Pacific University, USA), Marina Ortrud M. Hertrampf (Regensburg University, Germany), Sofiya Zahova (University of Iceland / University of St Andrews, UK)
Romani literature has experienced remarkable developments during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As of today, in almost all countries where Roma live, authors of Romani background have been producing books and other publications in various languages, including Romany. In the decades since 1989 the number of books that authors of Romani background have published has increased. Likewise, the usage of Romani in books, translations, and periodical publications by and for Roma has also risen. Romani literary pieces share features that go beyond the borders of any one country or region. These circumstances allow us to speak of Romani literature, and even of Romani literatures, as a heterogeneous and multifaceted, yet still a collective phenomenon.
The remarkably developing Romani literature scene has provoked a considerable interest among researchers, and increasing scholarship on Romani literature has assumed at least three distinct approaches. First, there are those studies that adopt a historical approach and are based on providing accounts of Romani literature production and authors’ life paths, along with outlines of socio-political factors (socio-biographical approach). Second, there are those studies that adopt the methods of the field of literary theory and comparative literature and focus on case studies of authors and theoretical interpretations of literary works. Third, there are studies analysing Romani literary production in terms of methods and theories developed in the field of cultural studies.
This panel proposal comes as one of the follow-ups to the multi-session panel Narratives by and about Roma organized as part of the 2019 GLS Annual Meeting and Conference on Romani Studies, 15-17 August 2019, at the University of Iceland. The panel participants have identified the need to further maintain a forum for discussion of Romani literature from various disciplinary angles and within the field of Romani Studies. We recognize that despite the dynamic development of Romani literary scholarship in recent decades, such scholarship has been somehow underrepresented within Romani Studies, both at forums and in academic publications.
The overall aim of the panel is to provide an interdisciplinary forum for discussion of Romani literature from historical and contemporary perspectives, bringing together researchers and practitioners from various backgrounds. We invite participants who address in their papers issues such as:
Theoretical approaches to Romani literature;
Developments of Romani literature as a field nationally and/or internationally;
Analysis and comparison of narratives and motifs in Romani literature;
Case studies of Romani authors and literary works;
Romani language production, publishing and translation;
Authenticity, representation and cultural appropriation in literature (co-written) by Roma;
Interfacing between Romani literature research and other fields (for instance history, migrations, antiziganism, ethnic studies, nationalism, etc.).
Migration and Adaptation to New Environments
Convener: Zdeněk Uherek (Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague, CR)
Romani migration is an important issue. As a result of migration, Romani groups have spread across the globe. During the migrations, Romani modified their languages, livelihood strategies, their skills and crafts, and the way of communication with the surrounding population. Moving was a daily routine for nomadic and semi-nomadic Romani groups. However, settled groups also move, and for them, migration is leaving home. Perhaps at present sedentarized families travel more than in the past, when moving more people was logistically much more difficult. Present-day Romanies thus engage in large-scale global migration movements that affect world politics, modify national interests and push cultural boundaries.
This “Migration Panel” deals with the reasons, contexts and circumstances of the arrival of individuals, families, or wider migrant groups in new locations. It focuses on their establishment, their first steps in the new places and their acceptance by the surrounding population. It seeks to answer the question of what social space the newly arrived Roma create, and how migration to a specific place affects their lives. It asks how their language and subsistence activities have changed, and how their standard of living, property ownership and other characteristics that influence the quality of life of individuals and families, have also changed.
What is told about migrations usually is more important for the daily life of an individual or group than what is traceable in the archives. An important place in the panel is therefore devoted to narratives transmitted by family members. We are interested in how they interpret their migrations and why. Migration biographies are one of the most interesting Romani stories and may not involve large groups, but often the movement of individuals who have migrated as a result of wars, the Holocaust or other persecutions, marriage, partnering, searching and finding relatives, seeking better livelihoods and so on. Migration biographies, whether individual or collective, belong to this panel and we will explore them.
Migration deals with a wide range of disciplines that generate a variety of theories. Therefore theoretical conclusions resulting from Romani migrations are not alien to this panel.
Pal o Roma romanes / Pa Rom romanes (Panel in Romani)
Conveners: Markéta Hajská (Romani Studies Seminar at the Department of Central European Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, CR), Jan Červenka (Romani Studies Seminar at the Department of Central European Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, CR)
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, no 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…) Vašoda 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.
O abstrakti bičhaven the andre romaňi čhib the angliciko (kampel soduj verzii). O kompletna referati pre konferencia ena ča romanes.
Pe GLS konferencii ži akánik mindik vorbijas pe maj but englišicka šibasa. Ame paťas, hoď pa kadal phušimátura anda intrégone akademickíva búťa šaj vorbinas vi románes. Romána šibasa šaj vorbin khetánes le akademikura pa cára luma, taj šaj haťáren peske le ekspertura anda sa intrégi thema. Kado paneli naj anglal dino la témasa, de la šibasa: intrégi vorba (vi prezentácia, vi diskuzia) si t´avel feri románes. Azír lešinas le referátura ande akharsoske disciplíni ande románe studii (sar si lingvistika, etnologia, historia, literatura vaj romano arto). Kadal referátura si t´avel skirime maj zurála akademickíva vorbasa, de vi kadej, hoď šaj haťáren la vorbake vi le manuš anda áver disciplíni. Kadale panelosa kamas te sikhavas, hoď pa sogodi románi tématika del pe te vorbij romána šibasa.
Abstraktura trobuj te bišavel sel duje šibenca: englišicka vi románes. Pi konferencia vorbija pe fere romanes.
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.
Contributors are asked to send their abstract in two language versions, both English and Romani. The language of their papers will be only Romani.
Religion(s) among Roma/Gypsies (churches, religious movements and institutions)
Convenor: Tatiana Zachar Podolinská (Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia)
Since the rise of modern society, religion has been told to disappear (‘disenchanted word’, Weber 1978). It is only in the last decades that secularisation itself is unveiled as a ‘modern myth’ (Berger 1999). ‘Re-enchantment’ is currently placed at the very heart of modernity (Jenkins 2000). Some authors not only observe a ‘return of the sacred’ but even ‘desecularisation’ (decrease in the secular aspects of modern culture, Bell 1977, Berger 1999). As mentioned by H. Knoblauch (2019), religion is not just ‘returning’, it is undergoing a fundamental transformation, and only those forms of religion are booming that have undergone such transformation.
The purpose of the panel is to examine the state of the art of the academic research on religiosity/spirituality among Roma/Gypsies. In 2019 the Platform for Academic Networking on Religions among Roma/Gypsies was established with the aim to establish a network and spread academic knowledge about research on all forms of religion, including institutional, non-institutional, private and individual forms of religiosity and spirituality among the Roma/Gypsies worldwide (PAN-ROM, see https://uesa.sav.sk/?q=sk/pan-rom.). The GLS 2020 panel is meant to be a kick-off on the topic of the role of religiosity in the social life of Roma communities. In some regards it is also a continuation of the pre-arranged panel of GLS 2019 devoted to the mission of Pentecostal and charismatic denominations operating among Roma. This year the thematic scope is much broader in order to examine also traditional and non-traditional forms of religiosity and spirituality among Roma/Gypsies.
Contributors are invited to formulate the topic of their contribution according to their current interest in the given area. As a sort of inspiration and points of reference following thesis are pinpointed:
religiosity as a vehicle of social, cultural and ethnic innovation
role of pastoral discourse in construction and re-construction of identity
role of religion in social inclusion/exclusion
role of religion in social mobility (horizontal and vertical)
role of religion in social cohesion and social networking
religion and migration
non-traditional forms of religiosity and spirituality
The panel is open also to innovative methodological approaches, especially qualitative methodologies and approaches in order to achieve a holistic picture with emic perspectives.
As the panel convenor, I would like to cordially invite anyone interested in this research area to contribute to our open GLS 2020 panel. Feel free to contact the main convenor with any queries regarding the panel (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Bell, D. (1977). The Return of the Sacred? The Argument on the Future of religion. In: British Journal of Sociology 28(4): 419–449.
Berger, P. L. (1999). The Desecularization of the World. In: P. L. Berger (Ed.), The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Washington: Eerdmans, pp. 1–18.
Weber, M. (1978). Economy and Society. Berkeley: University Press of California Press.
Roma, Education and Employability of New Generations
Conveners: Olga Magano (Portuguese Open University, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), CIES-IUL, Lisbon, Portugal, Elena Loreni Baciu (West University of Timisoara, Romania)
In Europe, in recent decades, Roma have been systematically targeted by public policies, measures and programs aimed at promoting social integration and reducing social inequalities, including through policies to combat poverty, increase education levels and diversify the forms of labor market integration. This intention culminated with the European Strategy for Roma Integration (2011) which gave rise to national strategies in each EU member countries.
Nevertheless, data on schooling for Roma, especially children and young people covered by the latest social policies, show they continue to have high dropout rates, and there is still a huge gap between Roma and non-Roma schooling in general, in all countries. In order to promote measures for the integration of Roma the governmental agencies have implemented, in various countries, public policies that promote social welfare in accordance with the guidelines of the “modern and democratic” Social State, but, however, inequalities still persist between people. Roma remain the poorest and least educated minority.
On the other hand, some Roma who have completed compulsory education or have completed higher education often report difficulties in entering the labor market, and are struggling with explicit and hidden forms of racism either by private companies or public institutions.
The purpose of this panel is twofold:
(1) to analyze the impact of social policies on improving the school attendance of Roma; and
(2) to understand how these policies translate into increased employability of Roma.
We are interested in learning about the experiences and results of policy implementation in various countries across Europe and providing a space for sharing and discussing research data or data from intervention projects about innovative strategies, methodologies and practices that contribute to promotion of school attendance, the prevention of early school leaving, training, as well as providing viable alternatives for the labor market participation of Roma persons.
Roma in the Period between WWI and WWII
Conveners: Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov (School of History, University of St. Andrews, Scotland, UK)
This panel is a continuation of successful panels from 2018 and 2019 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, huge movement of populations, the birth of new nation states, the 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 the exist 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 panel aims to bring together researchers from different disciplinary fields and it seeks to study the impact of the Interbellum period on Roma communities. The panel is specially 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 evidences reflecting state policies in regard to Roma, to include presentations which analyse the appearance and development of social and political projects proposed by Roma.
Abstracts of approved pre-arranged panels
The panels are closed and only include contributions by invited presenters.
Antigypsyism in Education
Conveners: Hristo Kyuchukov (University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland), William New (Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin, USA) and Lukasz Kwadrans (University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland)
The panel will show different historical and contemporary aspects of antigypsyism in education. The legacy of the Nazi education towards Roma children during the WWII remained after the War as well and in Europe and Russia the attitude towards the Roma children education did not change so much. The papers included in the panel are showing how the segregated education of Roma children still exist, although the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg recommended the segregated education for Roma children in Europe to be ended. The participants in the panel use different methodological approaches in order to show the problems in the education of Roma children and particularly the forms of antigypsyism. The papers present preliminary results from ongoing projects or projects which have been recently completed. The panel brings a new information in the field of Romani Studies particularly in the field of education.
W. New will uses the historical approach to present the educational issues and antigypsysm in Germany after the WWII. Barbara Grabowska and Lukash Kwadrans’ presentation is dedicated to segregation in Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Petr Tsarikov presents the segregated education of Roma children in Russia. The paper by H. Kyuchukov presents results from a research among Russian Roma primary school children speakers of Kotlyari (Kalderash) dialect educated in a segregated school.
William New: Re-nazification and De-Nazification in Postwar West Germany: Learning about the Roma in Freiburg, 1965
Barbara Grabowska and Łukasz Kwadrans: Problems of Pedagogical Diagnosis and School Segregation of Roma Pupils in Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia
Hristo Kyuchukov: The Romani Language Knowledge of Russian Kotlyari (Kalderash) Children from a Seregated Primary School
Future Directions of the Gypsy Lore Society: Scholarship, Activism, Names, Purposes
Convener: Carol Silverman (Anthropology and Folklore, University of Oregon, USA)
This panel addresses two intersecting issues: current perspectives in Romani Studies and the changing roles of scholarly societies. The “critical turn” in Romani Studies centers Roma in the production of their own knowledge and interrogates the hegemony of past outsider studies “on rather than with” Roma. Simultaneously, scholars have examined the fraught colonial/collector/racist history of GLS (Acton 2014). GLS is grappling with how to attract more scholars and more Roma; does GLS need to re-tool its mission or its structure? These issues raise questions such as how is scholarship produced, who controls regimes of truth (re: structural inequality), what are the appropriate roles of insiders and outsiders (and how are these descriptors applied and with what consequences), and how and where can collaboration happen.
An overarching theme is interrogating the purposes of scholarship. What is knowledge good for, and how is it related to activism and real-world applications. Many Roma as well as non-Roma are involved in policy and grassroots work to change inequalities and address anti-Gypsyism. GLS, in its conferences and journal, has embraced studies of activism. Should GLS play a more public role? How can embracing diversity help GLS grow and become more vibrant? What role can GLS play in bridging the gap between theory and practice, academia and public policy? Regarding terminology, do the terms “Gypsy” and “Lore” represent the scholars, the scholarship, the future of the society, and its public understanding? What is our relationship to the heritage of our society and our name?
Clark offers a schema of scientific and critical reasoning on squaring the circle of past activities and outputs of GLS as well as assessing the potential of future directions, in terms of mission, engagement, activism and politics. He argues that GLS can reenergize itself as a body that is relevant to the 21st century.
Dunajeva deals with the “critical turn” to decolonize knowledge, and the ethnic, geographical and linguistic inequalities of academic contributions. How does the nexus between language and power operate within Romani Studies in providing space for certain voices, as well as incorporating local knowledge(s) and culture(s)? What is the role of GLS in this movement, and how can it guide the field toward progressive scholarship?
Vajda argues that white fragility affects institutions that support Roma and their emancipation, such as GLS. It has damaging effects on understanding and dialogue, especially when Roma feel empowered to issue a challenge, whether overt or subtle, to non-Roma, regarding the anti-Gypsyism they experience. She outlines steps that non-Roma can take to shed their fragility and emerge as robust partners in the fight against anti-Gypsyism.
Ostendorf posits that the future of Romani Studies (and thus GLS) will be enriched by considering a trans-Atlantic context, moving away from a Euro-centric view.
Bila interrogates “othering” in the history of GLS, and asks how Romani experiences are visible today in GLS. Can we learn from Romani experiences in working towards a future without nationalism? How can GLS help to distinguish the mythological "Gypsy" from real Romani peoples?
Colin Clark: Addressing the Past, Rewriting the Future: An Agenda for Change for the Gypsy Lore Society
Katya Dunajeva (International Studies and Political Science, Pazmany Peter Catholic University, Hungary): Decolonizing Knowledge Production and the Role of the Gypsy Lore Society
Violeta Vajda (University of Sussex and Institute of Development Studies, England): White Fragility in Romani Studies
Ann Ostendorf (History, Gonzaga University, USA): The Global Future of the Gypsy Lore Society: A View from the Americas
William Bila (independent scholar, Paris, France): Romani Contributions to European and North American Cultures
Responding to the State: Uncovering Romani Agency in Early Modern and Colonial Atlantic Worlds
Convener: Ann Ostendorf (Gonzaga University, Spokane, USA)
This panel sits at the intersection of two contemporary scholarly trajectories: archival-based historical studies in the field of Romani Studies and a consideration of the ways diverse Romani people experienced their lives in the early modern states of Europe and the Americas. Historians today are cognizant of the risks inherent in the deployment of sources constructed to bolster the state in studies of those traditionally deemed marginalized. Yet we also recognize that hidden within these archives are the voices of diverse Romani people whose responses to their circumstances remain largely unconsidered. Their stories can be, and deserve to be, told. Re-placing Romani back into history as historical actors themselves (not merely as those being acted upon) reveals the ways they experienced, navigated, and even manipulated systems of power while attempting to secure their own best interests. Not mere victims of official power, these women and men carved out meaningful lives in relations with others around them in ways distinctive to their spatial and temporal circumstances. This panel also intends to promote a comparative lens of Romani agency vis a vis the state. Juxtaposing case studies from diverse regions not only reveals the proliferation of Romani agency on both sides of the Atlantic during an era mostly noted for their persecution, but this also reveals the distinctiveness of individual adaptative strategies dependent upon local circumstances. The microhistories presented on this panel allow the phenomena of expanding European states to be understood in some of the ways that individuals actually experienced and responded to it.
Stephan Steiner (Sigmund Freud University, Vienna, Austria): In Law we trust. ‘Gypsies’ and procedural justice in the Enlightenment period.
Tom Tyson (University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK): ‘Gypsies’ and Communal Relations in Seventeenth-Century Scotland.
Martin Fotta (Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany) and Ann Ostendorf (Gonzaga University, Spokane, USA): The Racialized Self: Experiencing Racialization in the Colonial Atlantic Lusophone and Francophone Worlds.