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Colloquium: Transregional History | Volha Bartash (Leibniz-Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung): “Memory Activism and the Commemoration of the Nazi Genocide of Roma in the Baltics"

Volha Bartash is an ethnologist and historian of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, having published widely on the history and culture of Roma communities and their memory of the Nazi genocide and World War II. Her current research interests include the relationship between history and memory, memory and borders, grassroots activism and the state. Methodologically, her research integrates archival history, oral history and ethnography. She is committed to the practice of writing history “from below” and reconstructing the experiences of vulnerable and marginalized populations. Before joining the Graduate School, she was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies. Her research has received support from the European Commission, Swedish Institute and Kone Foundation. She has held fellowships at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Vienna Wiesenthal Institute and the Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena.

Dr. Bartash’s talk examines common challenges that Roma communities and memory activists face across the Baltics in their commemoration efforts. Nationalist narratives of history, persistent prejudice, their low social status and lack of resources act as entry barriers to national memory. Most mass killing sites of Roma genocide victims remain undocumented and unmarked, and community initiatives break apart due to the lack of coordination and institutional support. Regarding official recognition, the situations are different. Lithuania has recently included the Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma (August 2) in the calendar of national observances. In contrast, Latvia and Estonia have hardly started a national debate on this topic. What accounts for these differences? Why do they occur in the countries with a shared historical past (post-Soviet states and new EU member states)? This talk will frame analysis of the local commemoration initiatives alongside developments in the International Romani movement and Holocaust commemoration.


Zoom and in Presence at IOS (Landshuter Str. 4, Room 017)





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