Roma encyclopedia and Standardised Writing

In the wake of political change, the Fourth International Romani Congress was held in Warsaw. Of the 250 delegates present, already 75% came from former communist states. This indicated the process of organisation as well as the severe social, economic and legal conditions of the Roma living in these countries.

The range of topics discussed at this congress was wider than ever before (education, media, reparations, etc.). Even more significant than the variety of issues presented, however, was the planned realisation of two major projects. These were to add a new quality to international Romani politics, which were traditionally focused mainly on cultural and linguistic issues. The Roma encyclopedia, constituting one of these projects, was conceptualized as a work for, instead of about, the Roma. In this way, the emancipatory process was able to critically deal with the one-sided historical writings traditionally dominated by non-Roma.

The second project, consisting in the development of a standardised written language, is a complex and long-term endeavour. The need for a standardised form of Romani is part of the attempt to bridge the gaps existing between the Roma groups that have their origin in their different histories and contacts with majority populations. The aim, of course, is to create a national identity uniting all the Roma.

Along with the common origins, culture and experience of genocide, the common language serves the representatives of the "Romani Movement" as a motive for their claim of Roma nationality and therefore special legal demands. Whereby a special legal status on a European level, heavily debated among the Roma themselves, has not been achieved, the Council of Europe recognised Romani as a "non-territorial" language in 1992.

References

Fraser, Angus (1992) The Gypsies. Oxford.
Kaiser, Hedwig (1993) Das Leben der Roma und Sinti im deutschsprachigen Raum von der Zeit der Zuwanderung bis in die Gegenwart, unter besonderer Berücksichtigung administrativer und legislativer Maßnahmen. Politische Entwicklung von der nationalen zur internationalen Dimension, Wien.
Mirga, Andrzej / Gheorge, Nicolae (1998) Anerkennung als Nation oder Minderheitenrechte?. In: Pogrom 199, pp. 23.
Project On Ethnic Relations (ed.) (1997) The Roma in the twenty-first century: A policy paper. Princeton.
Project On Ethnic Relations (ed.) (2001) Leadership, representation and the status of the roma. Princeton.
Vossen, Rüdiger (1983) Zigeuner. Roma, Sinti, Gitanos, Gypsies zwischen Verfolgung und Romantisierung, Hamburg.
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