The plight of the Roma focus of international conference
21 October 2013
An international conference on antiziganism in Europe takes place at Uppsala University on 23–25 October. The purpose of the conference is to contribute to a clearer picture of the phenomenon of antiziganism, both historically and in our own time. The stated ambition is to considerably improve the state of knowledge in an area where systematic research was scarce before the year 2000.
The background to the conference is not the recent revelations of the extensive registration of Roma performed by the Swedish Police, but an on-going political process on Swedish, Nordic and European levels. The process involves a working-through of the history of the Roma and their social position in Europe. The treatment of the Roma, and what has been ascribed to Roma in debates, political gambits and investigations have often been about something other than real Romani individuals, but it is individual Roma and Roma communities that have suffered from a social and political point of view, also through violence and persecution.
In Sweden a truth and reconciliation commission has been suggested, following the Norwegian model, both from Roma commentators and scholars. On the political level the revelations of the police registries surfaced at a sensitive time, as a debated government decision made after an official investigation in 2011 suggested that antiziganism rooted in authorities was a thing of the past in Sweden.
“Across Europe, there is populist agitation against Roma. In Sweden, we have seen the Roma registration by the police being unravelled. This conference will be an opportunity to apply scientific perspectives to antiziganism and investigate the differences and similarities between antiziganism in different countries and in different times”, says historian Jan Selling, conference organizer and researcher at the Hugo Valentin Centre, Uppsala University.
Jan Selling is also the author of a recently published study on Swedish antiziganism (2013). The book is the first Swedish study on the subject. The research network “Roma and Resande in the Nordic Countries” (Rorhin), based at Uppsala University, was initiated in 2010.
The conference will have over a hundred participants and will be hosted at Norrland’s Nation in Uppsala on 23–25 October. On the evening of 23 October at 7 pm, linguist and professor Ian Hancock will give the conference’s keynote speech, “Roma – Explaining Today through History”. Location: Geijersalen, English Park Campus . Media are welcome. Read the program.