Legacies of the Roma Genocide in Europe since 1945

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: History

Abstract

This research network explores the legacies of the Roma genocide in Europe since 1945, with a focus on working closely with Roma NGOs to investigate the long-term consequences of persecution among Roma communities. Roma are the largest transnational European minority, but Roma history is neglected in studies of postwar Europe. At least 130,000 Roma and Sinti lost their lives as a direct result of racial policies implemented by Germany, its allies, and other European states between 1933 and 1945. Yet far too little is known about the impact of mass murder and persecution of 'Gypsies' within Romani families after the war was over, and across ensuing generations.

Our research will integrate Roma into larger historical debates about the legacies of genocide in postwar Europe. We will thereby advance a timely research agenda for future scholarship on the history and politics of Roma in contemporary Europe. We will also explore the relationship between current discrimination and genocidal histories. We will thus be in a unique position both to challenge current policy debates that frame Roma as a European 'problem' and to inform initiatives for public education on the genocide.

The network brings together historians, policy makers, community groups and the general public to explore the social, economic, and political consequences of the Roma genocide for individuals, families, social movements and states from 1945 until the present day. Comparative and transnational in scope, our research community will include participants from eastern and western Europe, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, and the US. This will enable us to explore the postwar history of Roma in the communist East as well as the democratic West and the authoritarian regimes of southern Europe. Both academic and policy objectives depend on co-production of research with Roma communities, foregrounding them as historical subjects and providing them with an opportunity to reflect on and contribute to the production of historical narratives that concern them. Through a series of four workshops, we will create an international network of researchers, a website, database of researchers, three public events, a collected volume of essays, and pathways to future research collaborations.

The first workshop (to be held in Liverpool) will ask participants to reflect on conceptual approaches to studying genocide and its legacies in relation to the history of Roma and Sinti. The second workshop (Manchester) will ask how memories of genocide have been shaped by continuities in state policy (such as education, welfare and policing), as well as in international organizations in fields such as migration and restitution. The third workshop (Prague) explores the impact of genocide within Romani families, drawing on ethnographic, cultural, and activist perspectives on memory, trauma and identity. The final workshop (Liverpool) will bring together contributors to the collected volume for a focused discussion of their papers.

Public engagement is a core part of the network, and is shaped by our collaboration with Roma NGOs - the Roma Voices of Manchester community interest company, the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, Czech Republic, and the European Roma and Travellers Forum - as well as the Romani Studies department at Charles University, Prague and the MigRom project at the University of Manchester. Our public events will speak to interested members of the public, as well as activists and interest groups.

The contemporary relevance of this topic presents an exciting opportunity for dialogue with advocacy groups and policy makers, including international organizations such as the Council of Europe and European Commission, and the new Roma-led European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture. To this end, we will produce an open access, online briefing paper to disseminate our findings to a broad audience.

Planned Impact

The project will be in a unique position to instigate a change in public and official understanding of the Romani minority and its perception of its own history and identity, through a novel and innovative partnership between specialist researchers, cultural activists and members of the Romani community. It will have a long lasting impact beyond the academic community as it will help empower members of the Roma community to reflect and communicate their experiences and view of historical memory, and it will create opportunities for them actively to engage state and public agencies in such reflection, ultimately supporting a shift from the perception of Roma as an 'emerging' community toward a perception as a 'resilient' community at local, national and international levels. Thus the non-academic beneficiaries of the network will include policy makers, the wider community in Britain and Europe, and Roma communities themselves. To achieve these outcomes, we will:-

1. Include Roma community members in the co-design of our research network from the outset, as well as in the evaluation and contextualisation of our research insights. Our network includes the Roma Voices of Manchester community group as a full partner, which will participate in the design of our conceptual approach (Workshop 1), contribute to the assessment and contextualisation of research insights (Workshops 2 and 3), and disseminate research results to policy bodies, schools, and the general public (through three free public events with local authorities, educators, and cultural activists, an online briefing paper, and a video report summarising impressions from the Network posted on the project website).
2. Provide Roma community members with an opportunity to reflect on our network's research questions and findings. Roma Voices of Manchester members will organise focus groups with Roma communities during the first phase of the project, and our network workshops and public events (Manchester and Liverpool) will facilitate encounters between community members, local authorities, cultural activists, educators and the media.
3. By providing training and experience in research co-design and co-production, we will create the conditions for sustainable empowerment of Roma community members, particularly the capacity and opportunity to participate in academic discourses and government initiatives about Romani history and memory.
4. Build on partnerships with the MigRom project (Manchester) and the Romani Studies Department at Charles University (Prague) and create new links with the Roma Voices of Manchester community group, local authorities and schools in Greater Manchester and Merseyside, the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, Czech Republic, and the new European Roma Institute in Berlin.
5. Use the project website hosted by the University of Liverpool to engage non-specialist audiences, using social media and email lists to build an audience for the site. We will draw on existing links with MigRom, the European Academic Network on Romani Studies, and the European Roma and Travellers Forum, to generate audiences for the project website.
6. Run three free public events in Liverpool and Manchester, in cooperation with Liverpool's International Slavery Museum, the coordinator of the Federation of International Human Rights Museums. The ISM has a strong track record in organizing public engagement events in partnership with the University. Live tweeting of this event, with a dedicated hashtag, as well as podcasts on the project website, will extend its reach beyond the audience in Liverpool.
7. Evaluate events through attendance figures, audience questionnaires and monitoring of social media, e.g. the network's Twitter feed. Website usage will be monitored throughout the project, with particular attention to those outputs aimed at a general audience. We will seek feedback from our partners through tried-and-tested mechanisms such as wrap-up meetings.

Publications

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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/P007260/1 01/06/2017 30/09/2019 £36,179
AH/P007260/2 Transfer AH/P007260/1 01/10/2019 31/07/2020 £12,087