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June 24, 2018
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Prague Forum for Romani Histories launches Czech website, panel on Holocaust research MONDAY

19.5.2018 8:45
The Czech-language website of the Prague Forum for Romani Histories was launched in May 2018.
The Czech-language website of the Prague Forum for Romani Histories was launched in May 2018.

Romani communities live around the world and historians worldwide take an interest in them, but their research efforts frequently remain isolated from each other. Connecting historical research to Romani communities is the ambition of the Prague Forum for Romani Histories, which was created in September 2016 in Prague during the first session of its governing committee.

The Forum is institutionally anchored at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in its Institute for Contemporary History. The aim of this relatively newly created supranational initiative is, according to Dr Kateřina Čapková, a coordinator of the Forum's activities, to connect isolated researchers from different European countries - not just Romani Studies scholars, but primarily historians, sociologists, anthropologists, philologists, etc.

The entire Founding Statement of the Forum is available here. In the summer of 2017 the Forum launched its website in English on the eve of its first international conference on the subject of "Tracing the Legacies of the Roma Genocide. Families as Transmitters of Experience and Memory." 

Čapková told news server that on the basis of the feedback received during that first conference the Forum has decided not to just aim its work at an international audience:  "Originally we planned that the main emphasis would be on conferences and workshops with international participation that would take place exclusively in English. These academic activities would just be augmented with Czech-language events from time to time for the Czech public. The unusual amount of interest in the Forum's activities from Czech experts, activists and the public, however, has convinced us that academic events such as conferences and workshops must also be made available in Czech. The launch of the website in Czech is our first step in this direction."

The Czech website, however, is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Čapková:  "What is much more resource-intensive is our resolution that our conferences and workshops where the main language is English should always be simultaneously interpreted into Czech. That involves great financial demands for such events, but we are convinced it is a good investment. We hope we are contributing not just to the Czech public becoming more informed, but mainly that we will facilitate a dialogue among academics, activists, and ordinary citizens, whether from non-Romani or Romani families. Such dialogue will certainly enrich everybody."

Currently the Forum is holding an exhibition of the art of the architect and visual artist Zdeněk Daniel, "My Black-and-White Shadows:  Memento Mori" at the Hybernská Street campus of Charles University, which you can visit until 29 May 2018. As an auxiliary program to that exhibition the Forum, together with ROMEA, o.p.s., the Romani Studies Seminar at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, and the Museum of Romani Culture will hold a panel discussion on "Holocaust of the Roma: Contemporary Research in Czechoslovak Context" on Monday, 21 May at 18:00 at the Hybernská Street campus.

The panel debate will relate not just to the former concentration camp at Lety u Písku, but also to the entire Czechoslovak region. Panelists will focus on historical research into the Holocaust of the Roma and how it overlaps with activism, commemoration, mobilization of communities and/or political memory.

Eva Zdařilová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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