Call For Papers: Recording Romani Voices, Documenting Romani Lives Workshop (June 13-14, 2022)

By Christy Bailey-Tomecek - January 18, 2022

June 13-14, 2022 at Central European University, Vienna
Application Deadline: March 1, 2022

Testimonies, oral histories, and ethnographic interviews are central sources for the writing of Romani history, in particular the documentation and memorialization of the Romani genocide, and a resource for pedagogical work to combat ongoing persecution against Roma in Europe. They also play a major role in Romani political debates. Nonetheless, Romani testimonies remain somewhat hidden from scholarship, and underappreciated for their unique ability to provide insight into the experiences of Roma survivors of genocide, as well as provide a rich picture of the past. At the same time, the origins and motivations behind the collection of testimony are varied, and not without controversy. Some earlier collections, for example, focus primarily on Romani folktales, songs, and stories, and could be viewed as catering to the desire for exotic outsiders rather than documenting lived experiences or reflect on the power relations that make these interviews possible. Other Romani testimonies stem from police efforts to surveil Romani populations. Despite their problematic origins, these sources remain essential for the (re)construction of Roma history and identity. Often the troubling histories of these archives also reveal long-standing mechanisms of exclusion and highlight methodological challenges peculiar to the collection of ego documents from continuously marginalized communities.

This workshop wants to open a discussion of these complex and important sources by putting a spotlight on the Romani testimonies held in major archives. We will put an emphasis on testimonies documenting the Romani genocide during the Second World War, including those held at the Fortunoff Video Archives. The workshop seeks to situate them in the larger context of Holocaust and Romani history and the efforts of scholars to tackle the epistemological and ethical challenges of oral history collecting. It also invites the participation of scholars in other fields dealing with testimonies whose approaches might inform discussions of Romani testimonies.

With this in mind, we seek papers from established and emerging scholars that examine the following topics and questions:

  • What is the history of Romani Holocaust testimony and how does this history inform ethical, epistemological, and organizational challenges in today’s research and archival work?
  • New approaches and methods: how can practices in cognate fields influence testimony collecting?
  • Archives, collecting practices, funding, and the curation of Romani testimonies
  • The voices that we miss: which positions remain marginalized in current efforts to collect Romani testimonies?
  • What is the meaning and function of the Roma testimonies in the transnational Roma movement, and how are they used in media representation, art and culture production?
  • If, when and how has the emergence of the “Era of the Witness” and the ubiquity of testimonies of Jewish Holocaust survivors shaped the production and use of Roma testimony in Romani historical and identity narratives, museums, documentaries, and memorial ceremonies?

Applications in English, including title and abstract of the topic no longer than 300 words, as well as a brief CV and a list of publications (3 to 5 lines), are to be submitted by March 1, 2022 to Scholars of Romani origin are particularly encouraged to apply.

The workshop is currently being organized as an in-person event, with online participation being possible should conditions not allow for travel.

Travel Costs:

Travel from within Europe and accommodation for two nights may be covered up to a certain amount, pending funding.


CFP deadline: March 1, 2022
Participants will be notified March 31, 2022.

Organized by

Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University (FVAHT)
Romani Studies Program and Nationalism Studies Program, Central European University (CEU)
Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI)

Concept and organization: Maria Bogdan, Éva Kovács, Ari Joskowicz, Angéla Kóczé, Michael L. Miller, Stephen Naron, Márton Rövid