Romani literature: Historical developments and contemporary challenges

In European written culture ‘Gypsies’ are depicted as exotic, passionate, seductive, free-spirited, illiterate and ´uncivilized´ characters, but it is almost unknown fact that literature written by Roma/Gypsies themselves exists since more than a century. April 8 is celebrated as the International Roma Day to raise awareness about the Romani culture, history and problems of the communities, described also as the ‘Europe’s largest ethnic minority’. On this occasion, on April 6, Sofiya Zahova, a postdoc researcher at the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute, will have a lecture devoted to literature production by Roma authors. 

The event is organized by the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages and will take place in the lecturehall in the National museum of Iceland and will be held. All are welcome. The lecture, will be delivered in English.

After providing basic information about the Romani people, Sofiya will discuss a periodization of the developments of the literature written by Roma examining the following issues:

How the identity policies of various actors (states, international bodies, Romani activists) have influenced the development of Romani literature;

Why, despite of the diversity of literary works by Roma (in terms of languages and dialects, countries of publications, genres and topics, etc.), we can speak about Romani literature as a common phenomenon;

What challenges are faced today in terms of publishing and distribution, readership, literacy in Romani and access to Romani literature texts.

Sofiya Zahova a postdoc at the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages conducting research on Roma culture, literature and identity with the support of a three-year grant from the Icelandic Centre for Research. Sofiya´s research interests and publications are in the field of Romani Studies and South-East European history and culture. 

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