Time of the Gypsies: Roma Culture and Society along the Danube

The fourth day of learning about the Danube began with Prof. Michael Stewart from UCL Department of Archaeology and his lecture on the Romani people, their culture and history. During the hour several important subjects were raised, encompassing the problems of recognising Romani identity, origin, history and language. The fact that Romani do not exist as a nation, their Indian, Balkan and Eastern European roots, their history after the World War II in the Danube region and the attempts to assimilate Roma into the communist society- all these issues were clearly discussed, so every participant could get the idea of the Romani around the Danube. The lecture was concluded by statement that culture should connect, not divide.

The group discussion that followed the Stewart’s lecture concentrated on the perception of the Romani people not only in the Danube region, but also in other parts of Europe and the way governments and people could help them coexist peacefully within the society.

In the afternoon we participated in another lecture on the Romani people. Amelia Abercrombie, whose research focuses on multilingual Roma, talked about her field work in Prizren, Kosovo. The case of multilingualism and mixing languages in everyday life, the significance and appropriation of each language and of standardisation of the Romani language and its purpose were engrossing topics of her speech.

Today’s language session was aimed at learning how to move around in the Slovak city. Our teacher Olga did not fail to give us numerous examples about linguistic differences and stories about Slovakia.

All things considered, day 4 was certainly beneficial for Slovak group. We cannot wait to explore other stories from the Danube region.

-Marianne Kokoczka (Slovakia Group)

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