Represeantations of Romanies

Friday 23 March 2007

The peculiarities of the representation and exoticisation of marginalised European Roma throughout history is to be discussed at a major event at the University of St Andrews this weekend (23-25 March 2007).

The University will host the British Academy-funded workshop, as part of a special weekend dedicated to the subject of European Roma. International experts, from academics to film directors, will explore the subject of Romani representation in film, art and politics. They will look at how Romani people are represented by non-Roma and how they represent themselves; what social, cultural and political effects such representations have, and how Roma strive to maintain linguistic, cultural and social distinctiveness.

The event has been organised by academic specialists at the University’s Department of Social Anthropology, the Centre for Film Studies, and the CNRS in Paris. The three-day event, which launches tonight, includes free public screenings of films featuring the lives of European Romanies.

Organiser Dr Paloma Gay y Blasco, is a social anthropologist who has worked with Gitanos (Spanish Roma) living in state-built ghettos in Madrid. She said, “This event will bring together the top specialists in the world on Roma issues from across a range of disciplines – anthropology, cultural and film studies, political science – as well as film directors.

“Our aim is to study how the Roma are represented and represent themselves across a whole range of arenas, from films to museums or political activism. We hope to produce a cutting-edge contribution to current debates about the place of the Roma in European society, and about the future of ethnic and cultural diversity in the contemporary world.”

Participants in the workshop include academics and film-makers from the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Germany, France, the US and the UK. They include American social anthropologist Alaina Lemon, who has worked with Roma musicians in Russian theatres, and Munich-based Katrin Seybold, who has made documentaries on the Romani Holocaust experience, the resistance of German people during the Nazi period and the plight of the Roma (Sinti) in Germany. The programme will be introduced by Dr Gay y Blasco and Professor Dina Iordanova, Director of the Centre of Film Studies at St Andrews, who has studied the representation of Roma in international cinema.

Key topics to be debated are: marginalisation of the Roma by non- Roma populations and states; integration and resistance to integration into the dominant societies; maintenance of linguistic, cultural and social distinctiveness; emerging political and religious forms of Roma mobilisation; migration from East to West; human rights violations; 20th Century persecution and genocide and the representation of the Roma in art and film.

“Our premise is the notion that understanding the historical persistence of the Roma as a marginal minority is essential. The purpose of the workshop is to investigate questions not only about the Roma, but also about contemporary European society, and about how to theorise marginality, subordination and resistance,” Dr Gay y Blasco continued.

The third interdisciplinary workshop in the British Academy Series on ‘The European Roma: Theorising Marginality, Resistance and Integration’ takes place at the University of St Andrews, 23rd to 25th March, 2007.

For more information please visit: gy/workshops/roma/index.html




Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st-

Ref: Representation of Romanies 230307.doc

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