©Valeriu Nicolae, 2002, all rights reserved. Published in The Romani Diaspora in Canada: History, Culture & Equity Issues, Editor Ronald Lee et al., 2003, Canadian Scholars Institute Press, Toronto, Canada. Required Course Reading for Spring Seminar, NEW 343HI, University of Toronto.
This is what real life is about for the majority of Romanian Roma, a life most of our politicians don’t care or don’t know about.
Where ever I go people ask me where I am from. The answer is always complicated because I have to explain that although I am from Romania I am a Gypsy (Roma doesn’t say anything to most of them). In Europe, when I give this answer, people look at me like I am crazy. Gypsies are the people no one wants around: the thieves and the beggars who cheat everybody and live rich and carefree lives. But I was the manager of a respectable company with partners all over the continent. I did not prominently display any big gold rings or chains; in fact, I seemed to be absolutely normal. In North America the reaction when I say I am a Gypsy is usually “cool!” They think I must be a free spirit with some mystical ability to read their future in their palms, even though I work as a programmer. None of them know or want to know that life for the majority of Roma in Romania is a daily struggle for survival and nothing else.
Continue reading “No tambourines, dancing bears or golden earrings: A Snapshot of Life in Today’s Romania” – Valeriu Nicolae
© Valeriu Nicolae, 2002, all rights reserved. Published in The Romani Diaspora in Canada: History, Culture & Equity Issues, Editor, Ronald Lee et al., 2003, Canadian Scholars Institute Press, Toronto, Canada. Required Course Reading for Spring Seminar, NEW 343H1, University of Toronto.
How long before we kick the whole lot out? ran the headline of a 2000 article in the UK paper The Sun, on the topic of Romanian Gypsy beggars in London. Romania is the country with the largest Gypsy population in Europe. An unbelievable 84% of Romanians declare adversity towards Gypsies in polls conducted by the European Union.
A few days ago an EU politician asked me what more could Europe do to solve the “Gypsy problem”. I answered with the following joke, to point out that so far Europe has done almost nothing to solve the problem:
Continue reading “Roma in Romania” – Valeriu Nicolae
©Hedina Sijercic, 2007, all rights reserved. This was a speech given by Hedina Sijercic at a conference during the Festival Tzigane Romani Yag / Romani Yag Gypsy Festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on October 14, 2007.
Aven saste thaj baxtale, Romnjale, Romalen, Chavalen! My name is Hedina Sijercic and I am a journalist, teacher and writer. I am Romani, Canadian, born in Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and now living in Germany.
For 15 years now, I have lived between three cultures: Balkan, Western European ‚ and North American. My life experience as a Romni (Romani woman) living between those three worlds has been very rich. I have met Roma from countries all over the world – both domestic and refugees.
I have met our Romnije (Romani women) all over the world, and especially our Romnije living in Bosnia, Germany, France, Italy and Belgium. The lives of all Romnije are the same – it doesn’t matter where they live. Our tradition and culture are too heavy and too powerful to change the suffering faced by our women throughout the history of our people.
I am here to talk about Roma women from Bosnia and Herzegovina, about their problems and their situation in their families and in the larger society. But I cannot talk about this without informing you at the same time about the whole Roma situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and their position there which is ultimately reflected on the women.
Continue reading “Roma Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina” – Hedina Sijercic
© Alexandra Oprea, March 17 2003, all rights reserved. Published on www.eumap.org
The conceptualization of race and gender as separate and even unrelated categories has perpetuated the marginalization of Romani women in the collection of statistical data. Inherent flaws in the exclusive categories in data collection processes underscore the invisibility of Romani women. Race and gender do not exist in isolation. Minority women often experience multiple forms of discrimination as a result of race and gender (1). The marginalization of Romani women must therefore be understood in the context of both racism and sexism (2). Ethnic statistics are necessary, but must be collected in such a way as to reflect the intersection of race and gender. A multi-dimensional approach to the collection of data is an important facet to designing policies and programs to combat institutional discrimination against Romani women.
Continue reading “The Erasure of Romani Women” – Alexandra Oprea
© Alexandra Oprea, July 2004, all rights reserved. Originally published in the Essex Human Rights Review (EHRR) Vol. 1 No. 1., p. 29-39. The article is available in pdf format from the Directory of Open Source Journals .
This paper centres on the exclusion of Romani women from mainstream feminist and antiracist discourses in Europe. This exclusion is explained through the lens of intersectionalism and problematic identity politics. It discusses their invisibility as perpetuated by programmes and reports from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It explains the absence of Romani women from Romani and feminist discourses, the uncritical view of Romani culture, and the vulnerability of Romanian Romani women to domestic violence. It emphasizes that analyses of social problems must be performed from the bottom up, looking at the experiences of those who are multi-burdened, such as poor Romani women. The paper concludes by discussing the value of recognizing privilege as the foundation for inclusive scholarship and discourse.
Continue reading “Re-envisioning Social Justice from the Ground Up” – Alexandra Oprea
© Ronald Lee, June 2009 all rights reserved
Until this century, Roma were basically an illiterate people. Except for a small number of individuals, most Roma and Sinti in the many countries where they lived were unable to read and write. Some did learn basic reading and writing skills but contributed next to nothing in the way of literature about Roma by Roma except for a mere handful of individuals,. In the latter 19th century and especially after The First World War, a small Romani intelligentsia appeared in some of the countries of Eastern Europe and newspapers were published in Romani. In the former Soviet Union, under Communism, there was an attempt to integrate Roma into the educational system and a considerable but unknown number of Roma were educated. Others, living in the villages and the hinterlands remained illiterate. Mass education among Roma really dates from the end of the Second World War with the Communist governments in the former Soviet Bloc Countries.
Continue reading “Roma and Education” – Ronald Lee
©Ronald Lee, 2002, all rights reserved. Published in Terre Sospese – Suspended Worlds: A Photo Essay of Romani Refugee Camps in Italy. Stefano Montesi. Prospettiva Edizioni Srl. Rome. 2002.
The North-American Vlach-Roma believe there is a place between earth and Heaven, called Kalisferia in Romani, where the souls of unbaptised children, suicide victims and those who have committed crimes against God are condemned to exist in limbo. This is a dismal, fearful region of total darkness inhabited by fearsome creatures that torment those condemned to live there until they receive Grace from God to enter Raiyo, the Romani concept of Heaven. When I entered Camp Casilino 900, a Romani-refugee shanty town of shacks and trailers close to Rome, I found Kalisferia on earth!
Continue reading “Roma ande Kalisferia – Roma in Limbo” – Ronald Lee