Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - ROMANYSTUDIES (Multi-Disciplinary and Cross-National Approaches to Romany Studies: A Model for Europe)

Roma (aka 'Gypsies') are the largest transnational minority in our continent and are massively over-represented among the poor and the socially excluded. Despite serious social problems, the numerical importance and historical depth of this community, little provision is made for the teaching and study of Romany issues in the European academy. This has political and policy implications: initiatives taken are rarely grounded in independent policy oriented research.

Our consortium of 10 partners developed our training program to remedy this. We offered 11 training events on multi-disciplinary research methods and complementary skills in Romany studies. Over 36 months we turned a group of young students at the outset of their careers into the next generation of teachers and researchers. The program gauges the development of Romany politics and culture from a persecuted minority through to the emergence of Romany organisations. Essential to our training was the participation of trainees of both Romany and non-Romany ethnicity. The participation of persons who are part of the subject of study profoundly alters the form, style and content of training and enables all the students to move towards modern, participative methods that lay the basis for a Romany Studies worthy and capable of serving the 21st century. Our multi-disciplinary training challenged simple, mono-causal explanations for the state of Gypsy/non-Gypsy relations and students to think more broadly about the Roms and other 'Gypsy' groups and the societies they live in, encouraging a more critical approach to the practice of 'Romology' in the 21st century.

The partner institutions represented research in Romany Studies in eight European countries. The keynote speakers involved came from 17 countries while the young researchers were of 23 countries (out of which 5 were third countries). The diversity offered was also present in the disciplines represented by the researchers. The young researchers' disciplinary background is just as manifold with 19 disciplines represented among them (the largest group being that of anthropology, political science, sociology, linguistics and cultural studies).

The training involved different modes of teaching. We had 3 one-week-long electronic seminars, 3 face-to-face (20 or 11-day-long) training events in Budapest, Hungary and in Cluj, Romania. 16 young researchers went to mentor visits for a week-long consultation with their mentors. A special highlight of the Training program was the fact that the best of the first cohort of young researchers became trainers of the second lot of participants. The research results accumulated through the training program were edited in an E-book posted on the program's website.

The project has created a strong and long-lasting network of junior and senior researchers across Europe. As illustrated by the quotes below from a keynote speaker and an early-stage researcher, it has been one of the major outcomes of the 3-year long training program:
'In retrospect..., I think it is now possible to say with confidence that your work has changed the landscape of the discipline, and that the CEU summer school has become the most important point of networking in this field of study. It is an achievement to which I, and I am sure the other teaching staff as well, am proud to have had the opportunity to contribute'. (Yaron Matras, University of Manchester).

'I believe that constituting the network of researchers dealing with Roma in Europe meant a great step towards cultivating a network of people who are critically engaged, and reflexively approaching the Roma issue... actually can make a difference in addressing the plight of Roma people. I think that the Summer schools certainly created a great potential force by bringing together these networks of people and establishing some discussion frameworks and forums that can make a significant impact.' Jan Grill, Czech PhD candidate, University of St. Andrews, UK.

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