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January 23, 2020
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Czech Republic: Charles University's Romani Studies Seminar accepting applications

15.12.2019 6:19
Romani Studies Seminar, Department of Central European Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. (2018).
Romani Studies Seminar, Department of Central European Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. (2018).

Charles University's Faculty of Arts is accepting applications to its Romani Studies program. The Central European Studies Department is offering the program under the name Central European Studies: Romani Studies (Středoevropská studia: Romistika).

Applications to the Central European Studies: Romani Studies program can be filed until the end of February 2020 - more information is available online here. There is an almost 30-year tradition of teaching the subject at the university.

The program offers insight into the historical, linguistic and sociocultural reality of Romani communities, especially in the Czech-Slovak area, and is a conduit for knowledge about these subjects associated with currently-addressed questions about Romani people in the Czech Republic and worldwide. Graduates of Romani Studies work most frequently in the nonprofit sector, in the media, and in the state administration.

"Roma live in most European countries and have been part of the European cultural environment for more than 600 years. It is an error to associate Romani subject matter just with social issues. For that reason, we present this topic for study from many different angles, including the perspective of Romani people themselves. We would like to welcome students from Romani families, we can make it possible for them to place their family history and life experience into broader contexts, as well as students from non-Romani environments for whom this study, apart from other things, can facilitate a unique experience with minority difference," says the head of the Romani Studies Seminar, Helena Sadílková, Ph.D.

The Central European Studies Department's Romani Studies program is unique in the Czech Republic and one of just a few such departments in the world. In addition to providing an opportunity to look into Romani culture, history, and the relationship developed toward that culture and history by society and the state in a broader context, the study program also offers a unique opportunity to master the Romanes language.

Native speakers of Romanes are provided with an overview of the structure of their mother tongue by the program and also with the opportunity to apply themselves, for example, in the role of teachers or translators. "The Romanes language is the language spoken by the biggest minority in Europe. Just on the territory of the former Czechoslovakia alone there are hundreds of thousands of Romanes speakers, and the language is an integral component of the cultural and linguistic heritage of our region," says Michael Beníšek, Ph.D., one of the instructors of the Romanes language for the program.

"Some colleges in the Czech Republic and abroad offer a basic Romanes language course, or an introduction to Romani realities, or draw from Romani Studies research during their instruction. However, at the Romani Studies Seminar in Prague, students will learn to speak Romanes perfectly," says Pavel Kubaník, Ph.D., another instructor at the department.

Romani Studies can be pursued as a stand-alone field or studied in combination with other disciplines taught at the Faculty of Arts in Prague. "Since we also collaborate with other universities abroad focused on the study of the Romanes language and on Romani realities, our students currently have the opportunity to travel, for example, to Budapest, Helsinki or Stockholm, not just acquiring valuable experience studying abroad, but also drawing on direct information about the lives, histories and dialects of Romani people living in other European countries," says Markéta Hajská Ph.D., who is in charge of an international project through which such stays abroad are realized.

What else does the Romani Studies field at the Central European Studies Department offer? "Romani Studies is a small department. Students from different cohorts know each other and are in contact with their educators outside of class as well as during lectures. The teachers work on research of different kinds, in addition to their instruction, and the students have the opportunity to participate in that research under their guidance. That was how, during my studies, I was able to meet Romani people in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, England or Poland," says Jan Ort, a Romani Studies graduate who is currently continuing as a doctoral student.

Markéta Hajská, Department of Central European Studies, Charles University in Prague, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Romistika, Romové, romská kultura, romská literatura



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