august, 2019

15aug(aug 15)09:0017(aug 17)17:00Romani Studies Conference 201909:00 - 17:00 (17) Veröld hús Vigdísar Event Organized By: Stofnun Vigdísar Finnbogadóttur Event Type :Conference

Event Details

About the Conference

Veröld – House of Vigdís, University of Iceland

15-17 August, 2019

Deadline for open panel proposals: 15 January 2019 

Deadline for paper proposals and pre-arranged panel proposals: 28 February 2019

About the conference

The 2019 Annual Meeting of the Gypsy Lore Society and Conference on Gypsy / Romani Studies will be held at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík, August 15 to 17, 2019.

The conference is being organised on behalf of the Gypsy Lore Society by the Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding, the School of Humanities and Faculty of Sociology, Anthropology and Folkloristics at the University of Iceland.

Gypsy Lore Society conferences are the biggest annual scholarly events devoted to Romani Studies worldwide (see information about previous annual meeting here. We invite contributions on any aspect of Gypsy / Romani Studies and encourage participants from various disciplines, including history, ethnology, anthropology, sociology, political science, linguistics, international studies, security studies, area studies, economics, geography, literature, and other fields of humanities and social sciences. Panels and papers presenting interdisciplinary research, as well as synergies between academic research and practice are also welcome.

This year we would like to follow up on the need to initiate broad discussions on disciplinary approaches and terminology in Romani Studies as well as to take advantage of Iceland´s geographical location (Scandinavian region, between two continents). Thus, along with all other above mentioned topics we encourage also submissions of panel and individual paper proposals dealing with and reflecting on the following topics:

  • Perspectives in Romani Studies: Terminology, methods, areas of studies;
  • Antigypsyism: Historical and contemporary aspects;
  • Roma/Gypsies outside Europe (Asia, Africa, the Americas): Communities, identities and contemporary debates in academia;
  • Roma and Romani Studies in the Nordic context;
  • Children and young adults´ education: Academic, practical and policy aspects.

We look forward to welcoming you in Reykjavík in August 2019!

Academic Committee

Auður Hauksdóttir, Professor of Danish, University of Iceland

Elena Marushiakova, Professor of History, University of St Andrews

Guðmundur Hálfdánarson, Professor of History, University of Iceland

Marco Solimene, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Iceland

Marcos Toyansk, Senior researcher, SESC / University of São Paulo

Viorel Achim, Senior researcher, Nicolae Iorga Institute of History, Romanian Academy of Sciences

Conference Organizing Committee

Birna Bjarnadóttir, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages

Þórir Jónsson Hraundal, Lecturer, University of Iceland

Sheila Salo, Treasurer of the Gypsy Lore Society

Sofiya Zahova, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages

Valgerður Jónasdóttir, Event manager, Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding

Call for papers and panel proposals

Proposals for individual papers, open panels and pre-arranged panels are welcome. Panel organizers can submit only one panel proposal. A speaker may propose only one paper (for an individual paper or paper within a panel) as author or co-author. Papers should be 20 minutes long with an additional 10 minutes allotted for discussion. Panels and individual paper proposals undergo a peer-review process by the Academic Committee.

Open panel proposals

Open panel proposals should be submitted in doc, docx or rtf format to by 15 January 2019. Your proposal should indicate:

Title of the panel;

Panel organizer(s): Name, institutional affiliation and contact information;

Abstract of the panel content and purpose (max. 500 words);

Approved panel organizers will be notified by the end of January 2019.

Pre-arranged panel proposals

Pre-arranged panel proposals should be submitted in doc, docx or rtf format to by 28 February 2019. Your proposal should indicate:

Title of the panel;

Panel organizer(s): Name, institutional affiliation and contact information;

Abstract of the panel content and purpose (max. 500 words);

Format of the panel: One session or more sessions;

Speakers and titles of their papers. Note that all panel speakers should individually submit paper proposal abstracts indicating the name of the pre-arranged panel in which they participate.

Paper proposals

Individual paper proposals should be submitted in doc, docx or rtf format to by 28 February 2019.  Your proposal should indicate:

Is your proposal individual or part of a panel, and in the latter case title of the panel;

Speaker(s): Name(s), institutional affiliation and contact information;

Abstract of the paper (max. 250 words excluding references).

Other information to be included in your submission email  

Please indicate in the body of your email message if you:

Need a visa to travel to Iceland. (See list of countries that need a visa to travel to Iceland here.)

Plan to apply for support of your conference participation as an early career researcher from an underprivileged country.

Open panels

Expanding Epistemologies in Romani Studies

Panel organizer: Dr. Ann Ostendorf, Associate Professor of History, Gonzaga University

Spokane, United States,

Romani Studies is currently at a crossroads. Scholars in the various disciplines who participate in Romani Studies recognize the benefits of greater collaboration with Roma people in academic studies about them. At the same time, scholars often remain concerned that by incorporating methodologies that too expansively utilize experiential knowledge produced and acquired outside academic scholarship disciplinary integrity could be compromised. This panel attempts to build upon conversations from prior GLS Conferences that discussed ways Romani Studies could benefit from integrating epistemologies from disciplines designed to incorporate previously marginalized or ignored knowledge sources.  This panel will facilitate a discussion of disciplinary approaches and epistemological collaborations imperative to the continued legitimacy of Romani Studies in the future. What might Romani Studies learn from methodologies, epistemologies, practices, debates and terminologies used in Indigenous Studies, Gender Studies, Critical Race Studies, Jewish Studies, Postcolonial Studies and others? Panel participants should clearly articulate the components fundamental to the discipline being discussed, describe the benefits that greater integration of this discipline’s epistemologies would bring to Romani Studies, and imagine how this expanded epistemological integration would enhance the participation of Roma people in Romani Studies as legitimate producers of knowledge. Possible questions for consideration include:

  1. How and why has X Studies integrated (or failed to integrate) X scholars in significant and unique disciplinary forms of knowledge production?
  2. How has the discipline incorporated local/experiential knowledge while also remaining accountable to “western” standards of scientific academic scholarship?
  3. What has been/should be the role of X Studies outside academia (ie, in community engagement, governmental work, political action, etc.)?
  4. How has X Studies dealt with its internal diversities (i.e., of disciplines, of tribal/national/ethnic group membership, of positionality of individual scholars, etc.)?
  5. How might X Studies better recruit, train, and retain scholars of X Identity in academia?


If you wish to participate in the panel, indicate this when submitting your abstract for the conference (email: by 28 February 2019.


Memory of the Nazi genocide of Roma from a Comparative Perspective: Archival History, Public Representation and Family Narratives

Panel organizer: Volha Bartash, PhD, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg, Germany,,

It is a well-known fact that our memories of the past are shaped in the present. Just as knowledge about the past influences our current choices and attitudes, the demands of the present shape the ways in which we recall the past.

Comparing the memory trajectories of Roma in Europe, this panel intends to discuss the socio-political transformations that have shaped their current narratives of the Nazi genocide and World War II (WWII). At the same time, the panel aims to reveal the gaps between archival and family history, as well as between public representation and community memory.

Contributions from scholars and practitioners (e.g., educators and museum exhibition curators) are encouraged.

Potential questions to be addressed include but are not limited to:

– How do Romani minorities of different countries reflect upon their experiences of the Nazi genocide and WWII? How do they mourn and commemorate their family members lost in the genocide?

– In what ways do the major developments in the Romani international movement impact on the memories and commemoration practices of ordinary Roma and Romani elite? How does the bitter memory of the past affect the group identity of Roma? How do Roma position themselves regarding other narratives of WWII in their countries including those of other victim groups? What obstacles do Romani communities face in their commemoration efforts? How do their current plight and social status affect the above processes?

– How is the genocide of Roma represented in public education, museum exhibitions and media? What place (if any) does it occupy in the official narratives of WWII and politics of memory? How do current official narratives, as well as public and artistic representations, reflect the legacies of the past (e. g., of Socialism)? What has the dynamics of the public representation of the genocide of Roma been like since the post-war period?

– What is the relationship between archival history and family memories of Roma? How does archival silence happen? What are the ways of identifying and filling archival silences?

If you wish to participate in the panel, indicate this when submitting your abstract for the conference (email: by 28 February 2019.



Romani Childhoods – Learning and Socialization Beyond Education
Panel organizer: Pavel Kubaník, Romani Studies Seminar, Department of Central Europe, Charles University, Prague,

Although every society studied so far recognizes a distinction between children and adults and children were always part of life of every society, as a topic for research and as its informants childhood and children were for a long time neglected. Nevertheless, during the last two or three decades, the diversity of childhoods has become an important field of research and new disciplines or research frameworks arise and become established (new sociology of childhood, anthropology of childhood, language socialization etc.) A characteristic feature of these new disciplines is that children are not taken as mere objects of socialization, but as active participants of social interactions and cultural learning from very early age.

Within Romani studies research focused on children is mostly connected with the topic of education. By focusing on childhood and children only through the perspective of education we can miss very substantial information on how children learn and socialize into the life of their families and communities.

This panel is intended as a platform for basic discussion about diversity of Romani childhoods in different material, social and cultural contexts and also on its changes in time. Papers on primary socialization, language socialization, language acquisition, peer-group interaction, child care, norms of parenting, conceptualization of childhood, its gender aspects, forms of cultural learning and participation of children in social and economic life of their communities are welcome.

As the panel is not rooted in any specific scientific discipline but is focused on a specific topic which can be researched from different disciplinary departures, contributors to this panel should take into account that their papers should be comprehensible for researchers from different scientific disciplines.

If you wish to participate in the panel, indicate this when submitting your abstract for the conference (email: by 28 February 2019.



Anthropologies and Histories of Romani groups

Panel organizers: Stefania Pontrandolfo (Verona University, email:, and Grégoire Cousin (Verona University, email:


The debate within socio-cultural anthropology is full of reflections on the relations between history and anthropology, and especially on:

– Relations between different “historicity regimes” (the historical ways to experience temporality in different societies);

– Relations between the different ways that human groups have constructed their own “stories” (particularly the relations between “history” and “myth” and various “regimes of truth”);

– The possible ways of combining archival and ethnographic research in an anthropological perspective;

– Relations between institutional histories, circumstantial histories and oral histories;

– Relations between histories and memories.

The anthropology of Romani groups in Europe and the rest of the world could make important contributions to these heuristic developments as some works have already begun to demonstrate:

– How the cultural difference of some Roma groups can, in some cases, be placed within the construction of different temporality regimes;

– How the institutional archives in our countries are full of traces of these groups’ lengthy presences in Europe and the rest of the world but, at the same time, how overlappings, inconsistencies, silences between oral histories and memories of those involved in historical events and archive accounts of the same events are always possible;

– How Romani group ethnography can combine fruitfully with archival research by constituting, case by case, varied forms of “historical anthropologies” or “ethno-histories” or “regressive histories” or anthropological histories”.

Since these research paths involve an increasing number of researchers on an international scale, through this panel an assessment of the state of the art of research is being proposed as well as a moment of mutual reflection starting, above all, from a comparison of currently ongoing case studies.

For this panel, papers are solicited on anthropologies and histories of Romani groups that include critical reflections on using a combination of archival and ethnographic methods, on the different historicity regimes observed, on the different intersection possibilities between archival and oral histories and memories, as well as between missing archival traces and significant silences.

If you wish to participate in the panel, indicate this when submitting your abstract for the conference (email: by 28 February 2019.

Important dates

15 January 2019:        Open panel proposal submissions

End of January 2019:  Notification of approved open panel submissions

28 February 2019:       Individual abstract submissions and pre-arranged panels submissions

End of March 2019:     Notification to approved paper submissions

20 April 2019:              Application for conference participation support for early career researchers from underprivileged countries

30 July 2019:             Payment of registration fee

June:                            Preliminary programme

31 July 2019:              Final program and abstracts posted

15-17 August 2019:    Conference dates

Fees and registration

Registration will open 1 April 2019 and close 30 July 2019.

Register by paying the participation fee. Your registration is not valid until payment has been made.

The conference fee includes conference organization, conference materials, coffee breaks and a reception. Accommodation, transport from/to airport and/or hotels and conference dinner are not included.

Reduced fees apply to students, Gypsy Lore Society members and University of Iceland employees.

An Icelandic menu dinner will be organized in the banquet hall of Iðnó, one of the old historical buildings of Reykjavík city ( on August 16. If you wish to join the dinner you should pay for your dinner while paying and registering for the conference.

You can pay your fee by using the links below

Reduced 21,000 ISK, pay here

Standard 28,000 ISK, pay here

Reduced with dinner 28,600 ISK, pay here

Standard with dinner 35,600 ISK, pay here

Dinner only 7,600 ISK, pay here

The Icelandic Krona rates compared against other currencies can be checked here

Fee refund requests received on or before June 30 will be 70 % of total fees paid. No refunds after June 30.

Questions related to fee payment can be directed to Sofiya Zahova, Conference coordinator at

For details of membership see here. You should have paid membership for 2019 in order to be eligible for the reduced fee as a Gypsy Lore Society member. If you are joining now, you membership will be effective immediately.

Renew your membership or join as a new member here:

You may check your membership status by writing to the Gypsy Lore Society treasurer,

Support for early career researchers

Recognizing the fact that costs for conference participation in Iceland might be an obstacle for early career researcher from underprivileged countries, we are currently raising funds to support the participation of such researchers by securing shared accommodation in a double room in the Student Hostel Gamli Garður for the days of the conference and by covering their conference participation fee. Support for travel costs and per diem, however, cannot be provided.

If you are a young career researcher who would like to apply for such support you should indicate this in your abstract submission email. If your abstract is approved, you will receive an application form which you will be asked to fill in by 20 April 2019.

As we are not able to provide support for travel to Iceland, you may consider applying to the Gypsy Lore Society Fund for aid to early-career scholars to attend future meetings. See information here.

Keynote Speakers

Colin Clark
Stay or Go? – Roma, ‘Brexit’ and European Freedom of Movement

Since at least June 24th, 2016 – the day after the European Union (EU) Referendum vote – there has been a lot of public discussion in the United Kingdom (UK), and across other parts of Europe, about what will happen when ‘Brexit’ eventually arrives. Indeed, there has been a lot of discussion in the last few months about if Brexit will ever arrive. The debates have raged 24/7; often heated, contested and vexed. It has been a deeply uneasy and unsettling time, not least for the nearly four million EU citizens who live and work in the UK. However, it now seems likely, as we head towards October 2019 and a new leader of the UK Conservative Party, that we will begin to find out the realities and consequences of the ‘leave’ decision in the EU Referendum. The focus of this paper is a deep examination of the implications and consequences for freedom of movement of EU nationals, especially for Roma minority communities living and working in the UK, with a focused view from Scotland. This paper traces how some Slovak, Polish and Romanian Roma families, in particular, have started to think about, plan for and respond to the possible futures that lie in wait for them and where they might find themselves, geographically, economically and socially. The paper also has something to say about the wider ‘place’ of Scotland in Europe and how it positions itself as part of the ‘European project’. During the ‘Brexit’ debates, we have witnessed elements of both civic and ethnic nationalism being embraced, especially by the Scottish National Party (SNP), to illustrate supposed political differences with, in particular, England and Wales. It will be argued that in order to try and protect freedom of movement after ‘Brexit’ then Scotland must a) secure its political independence from the rest of the UK and b) negotiate a place back in the heart of the European project. Overall, as Fintan O’Toole has recently argued, Brexit has illustrated how lies have become truth, the oppressor now presents as the oppressed and an openly populist and xenophobic English nationalism is a force that now dares to speak its name. All of these factors need to be considered for how they impact on those individuals and families at the sharp end of a divided Brexit politics – what of Roma and their freedom of movement? It will likely be the case that Brexit does not mean Brexit, as Theresa May and other politicians opined, rather it will mean a future of cultural and political isolation, economic impoverishment and intellectual harm.

Colin Clark teaches applied social sciences at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) where he is currently Professor of Sociology and Social Policy. Colin’s PhD is from Edinburgh University (2001) and his research is mainly located within the connected fields of Romani Studies and ethnic and racial studies, with an interest in issues of identity, migration and citizenship. Colin has published widely in these areas as well as supervised and examined a number of PhD students. Outside of UWS, Colin sits on the Board of Directors of the Glasgow anti-racist group Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights and is a Trustee of the Roma Rights group Romano Lav (Roma Voice). He also is a member of the Research Advisory Group for the Scottish Human Rights Commission as well as the Traveller Movement.  He tweets at: @profcolinclark and more information about his work can be found here:


Lilyana Kovacheva
A model for Romani community mobilization:  An insider view

I´m a Romani woman, activists and academic who has lived half of her live in Communist Bulgaria and the other half in the process so-called democratic transition. I have been raised in the Romani mahala of Kyustendil where I also spent my youth as teacher and school director. I dare to say that despite the fact that I have gone through the social elevator path becoming a PhD in Ethnology, Director of an Educational Centre within the Ministry of Education and an internationally recognised Romani woman activist and expert on Romani culture and education, I have never discontinued my contacts, observations and engaged work at the grass-roots of the Romani neighbourhoods in Bulgaria and the Balkans.

Recently I have led a national-wide protest pleading for the resignation of the Bulgarian vice-premier who has claimed that the ´Gypsies have come very arrogant´ and do not obey the laws. The large mobilization of many educated and lay Roma throughout the country and in migration who backed up this protest, made me reflect on a model that can help Romani leaders, community workers and people to work together for the better life in Romani neighbourhoods.

In the paper I´ll discuss my life path as a Romni, researcher and activists on the background of historical and socio-political developments in Bulgaria. From the point of view of theory and practice I´ll discuss a model for Romani community mobilization. It is not something new, it is something that has been applied in Romani communities in the recent history, for example in communist Bulgaria, as well as since the 1990s when many NGOs were established and given grants to do community work. Criticizing the established practice in Eastern Europe in the process of transition for doing civil society work in the form of paid NGO projects, I claim that this model can be successful only when it is implemented voluntarily and addresses the local needs of each Romani neighbourhood.

Lilyana Kovatcheva (PhD in Ethnology) is the first woman in her community to receive a university education and the first Romni to hold a PhD from a Bulgarian educational institution.
Kovatcheva began her career as a primary school teacher and principal of the Romani school in Kyustendil. Later she became an expert of Romani as the mother tongue (2002-2006) and director of the Centre for the Educational Integration of Children and Students from Minorities (2011-2015), a body subordinated to the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science.
Since the 1990s Kovatcheva has been played an active role in activism and networking, promoting Romani women’s rights, researching Romani culture, developing materials for Romani children and translating to and from Romani. She has published various language editions of the book The Rom knows the way, which portrays prominent Romani activists from around the world, folklore collections, academic articles and studies on the education of Romani children. Her last book is Inner world. Festive System of the Roma in Central Western Bulgaria (2015, in Bulgarian).

Practical Information


The conference will be held at Veröld – hús Vigdísar, Brynjólfsgata 1 (corner with Suðurgata), 107 Reykjavík.

The venue is within walking distance from many hotels and accommodation options in downtown and west Reykjavík.

The closest bus-stops are Háskólabíó, Hótel Saga, Háskóli Íslands or Hagatorg.

Plenty of free parking spaces are at the venue.


Tourism in Iceland has grown immensely and moderately-priced lodging is quick to fill up. We encourage conference participants to book accommodation as early as possible to avoid high prices and limited availability. Websites such as and will provide information about a range of accommodation possibilities. For more information about hotels and other types of lodging in Reykjavik, see here.

We have pre-booked 25 rooms for conference participants for 4 nights (14-18 August 2019) in the Student Hostel GamliGarður, a couple of minutes’ walk from the conference venue. The rooms are with shared bathroom and fully equipped kitchen at each floor. A room costs around 11,000 ISK (80 Euro) per night (note that the price can change slightly due to the currency exchange rate or due to changes in the hostel rooms price list). Rooms are suitable for both double and single use at the same price. Please note that there is WiFi internet access only in the common areas (which are wonderfully arranged and very cosy). Tea and coffee is also served at the common areas for free.

If you´d like to book a room at the Student Hostel please first have a look at the website of the hostel which provides details and pictures. If you would like to share the room with someone, you have to arrange this on your own in advance as the hostel management cannot organize that for you.

If you wish to book contact the hostel manager, Vala at, referring to Gypsy Lore Society 2019 conference booking when you book. The booking is done on “first come first served” basis. Prepayment is not needed, but in case you are not able to attend please notify Vala as soon as possible, but not later than a week prior to the check in date. Vala will also answer all your questions regarding the accommodation facilities.


Keflavík International Airport (KEF), the main airport in Iceland, is located 40 kilometres from Reykjavík, the capital city. Over 20 airlines offer flights to and from Iceland through the airport. For information about flights to Iceland, see here.

Transportation to Reykjavík from the airport is available by bus, Flybus or taxi, see here

The only public transportation in Reykjavík is the bus system, Stræto. See their website for information about fares, timetable, and a route planner, here.

The two main taxi companies in Reykjavík are Hreyfill, tel. +354 588 55 22 see here and Taxi BSR, tel. +354- 56 10000, see here(only in Icelandic) When calling for a taxi you can expect it to arrive within 10 minutes.

For a map of the University of Iceland see here.


Internet access will be provided at the conference venue through WIFI connection. Those who have Eduroam will be able to access the internet through the Eduroam system at the University premises.


The official currency in Iceland is ISK (Icelandic krona). Recognised credit/debit cards are accepted in all restaurants, shops, hotels and cash machines. For the official exchange rate of ISK towards major currencies, see here.


For enquiries in relation to the conference, please contact Sofiya Zahova, conference coordinator, at


15 (Thursday) 09:00 - 17 (Saturday) 17:00


Veröld hús Vigdísar


Stofnun Vigdísar Finnbogadóttur