Roma family in Seyðisfjörður, 1912. Photo by Björn Björnsson. Source: National Musum of Iceland

Roma in the Centre is an initiative uniting several Romani Studies related projects under the auspices of the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages. It is a sign of our long-terms commitment to research, present and popularise — in Iceland, in Nordic countries, in Europe and globally — the literature and culture of the Roma/Gypsies. The centrality of the Romani agency is crucial for the initiative´s approach. Our belief is that Roma should be positioned not on the margins, as often done in mainstream culture and media discourse, but in the centre. The activities include:

Nordic workshops series Roma in the Centre

Three workshops that provide a platform for discussion of Romani agency in various forms of literature, folklore and cultural production with the participation of Roma active in both academia and practice. The workshops bring a novel approach into the research agenda of Romani Studies in Nordic context, and will be organized as follows:

1. Roma in the Centre: Narratives by Roma in oral and written culture, June 14-15, 2019, University of Iceland. See more about the event here

2. Roma in the Centre: Archiving Roma Cultural Heritage, October 24–25, 2019, Finnish Literature Society, Helsinki.

3. Roma in Nordic societies, May 12–13, 2020, CBEES, Södertörn University, Stockholm.

Supported by the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS)

2019 Annual Meeting of the Gypsy Lore Society and Conference on Romani Studies

The University of Iceland is hosting the biggest annual scholarly event in the field of Romani Studies, the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Gypsy Lore Society and Conference on Romani Studies, August 15 to 17, 2019. The conference is organized by the Vigdís International Centre and is supported by the Rector of the University of Iceland. 126 participants from over 30 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK, USA) will present 114 papers.

For more information visit the conference website (

Romane Lila. The entangled history of Romani identity politics and Romani publications

Database of Romani publications´ bibliography

Postdoc research project implemented by Sofiya Zahova with the support of the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNÍS). Its goal is to research and analyse the interrelated history of Romani identity policies and written culture practices on the example of Romani publications in Europe and worldwide. Romane lila (meaning Romani books/publications in Romani) contributes to the scientific knowledge and societal understanding of the Romani literature by a publicly accessible bibliographic database of Romani written culture. The database will be launched at the end of 2019.

Raddir Rómafólks: smásögur sígauna

Books from the Romani library created within Romane lila project

Despite its fame of a reading nation and leading position in various per capita publishing ratings (number of titles and print runs produced annually, number of published authors, etc.), Iceland appears to be the only European country in which literature works by Romani authors have not been published so far.

To address this gap and popularise the diverse Romani literature scene, VFI will publish, as part of its short stories series, the first ever Icelandic language collection of short stories written by some of the most acclaimed Romani authors publishing in this genre and one author of Scottish Traveller background. The collection includes stories by Georgijy Tsvetkov, Ilona Ferková, Jess Smith, Jorge Emilio Nedich, Jovan Nikolić and Mateo Maximoff, and will be released in the autumn of 2020.

The collection is supported by Icelandic Literature Centre (Miðstöð íslenskra bókmennta).

Romani movies & Roma in movies

     Taikon (Sweden, 2015)                                         Merry is the Gypsy Life (Bulgaria, 2017)

Organizing Romani movies season showing award-winning feature movies and documentaries about Roma that have been screen played, directed or consulted by Roma. Forthcoming in 2020.

For more information about Roma in the Centre initiative, contact Sofiya Zahova, researcher at VFI,