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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

MEMOROBIA: Memorialisation of Romani enslavement in territories of contemporary Romania

Alternative title: MEMOROBIA: Memorialisering av det romske slaveriet i områder av dagens Romania

Awarded: NOK 8.0 mill.

Few of us are aware of the historical enslavement of Romani people in areas that are part of today’s Romania. The MEMOROBIA research project will study the legacy and memorialisation of Robia, which means slavery in Romanian. In some territories of today`s Romania, Roma were enslaved from the 1300s to the 1850s. Romani people in these territories were born slaves, they were considered property that could freely be sold, exchanged and punished by the slave owners. The project takes as its starting point that this trauma, although a supressed memory, has had grave consequences for both Romani lives and non-Roma–Roma relations. With a team of researchers from Romania, Sweden, Norway and the US, the MEMOROBIA project will research the Romani enslavement from a contemporary perspective. Using methods from contemporary history, social anthropology and education, the team will • analyse the consequences of Romani enslavement in present-day Romania, including the consequences for Romani self-images and non-Roma–Roma relations, such as racialised poverty and antigypsyism; • research the new field of memorialisation of Romani enslavement, and provide an informed discussion on the pros and cons of activism aiming at historical justice and reparations in this context; and • map Romani enslavement in Romanian and Norwegian education, with the aim of addressing how Romani enslavement can be ethically integrated into educational settings in Europe. MEMOROBIA will establish new knowledge of the consequences and memorialisation of Robia slavery in Romania today, resulting in academic articles as well as public exhibitions in Bucharest and Oslo. The project will further contribute to scientific theories by introducing historical-justice perspectives on Romani enslavement to topics such as Roma identity, ethnopolitics, non-Roma understandings and antigypsyism. MEMOROBIA also introduce the theoretical perspective of historical justice into slavery education.

The MEMOROBIA research project focuses on a virtually unexplored research topic, namely the legacy and memorialisation of Robia: Romani enslavement in territories of contemporary Romania. That Romani people were enslaved for 500 years (from the 1300s to the 1850s) in Wallachia and Moldovia, that all Romani people in these territories were born slaves, and that they were considered property to be sold or exchanged and could be punished as the owners pleased are little known facts to most – and a suppressed memory in Europe. It is our hypothesis that this trauma has had grave consequences for both Romani lives and non-Roma–Roma relations. Grounded in the fields of contemporary history, social anthropology and education, the project will research Robia slavery from a contemporary perspective. First, the project will analyse the consequences of Robia slavery in present-day Romania, including the consequences for Romani self-images and non-Roma–Roma relations, such as racialised poverty and antigypsyism. Further, the project will research the new field of memorialisation of Robia slavery, and provide an informed discussion on the pros and cons of activism aiming at historical justice in this context. Lastly, the project will map Robia slavery in Romanian and Norwegian education, with the aim of addressing how Robia slavery can be ethically integrated into educational settings in Europe. The project’s contribution will be both empirical and theoretical. Empirically, the project will establish new knowledge of the consequences and memorialisation of Robia slavery in contemporary Romania. Theoretically, the project will contribute to theories of historical justice by analysing the relationship between historical-justice perspectives on Robia slavery and its relevance to topics such as Roma identity, ethnopolitics, non-Roma understandings and antigypsyism, as well as by introducing the theoretical perspective of historical justice into slavery education. For more information, please see the project website at https://www.mf.no/memorobia

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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren