They are known as “Gypsies” and call themselves Roma or Sinti. According to the agreement of the First World Romani Congress in London 1971, we use the term Roma for all of them.
The origin of Roma has been a mystery for a long time whereat Romani has proven to be a key to understanding of the origin and history of Roma. Like most of the European languages, it is an Indo-European language, thus the evidence of Roma provenance from India could be found in the linguistic similarities between Romani and Indian language. The first Roma-migration started from Central India in the first centuries AD, by the 14th century the first Roma arrived in Europe. With the splitting up of Roma towards European destinations the Romani, until then having been quite homogeneous, start to develop further differently. Almost simultaneously with the presence of Roma people in Europe began the discrimination, grounded on “unusual” lifestyle, culture, and skin colour, that indigenous residents connected with negative character. Wherever the Roma people appeared, they were unwanted. Soon the authorities began with methodical persecution of Gypsies that culminated in the Second World War with Porrajmos, the genocide over Roma people. Porrajmos, a terrible act of violence over Roma people, was almost completely forgotten and unknown to the public for several decades after the war. It is only in the last few years that scholars have began with the studies of tragic destinies of Roma and Sinti during the war.
Although traces of Roma settlement on Slovenian territory can be found in literally sources already in the 15th century, expert sources indicate that the Roma started to settle down permanently in Slovenia during the 17th and 18th century. During the WWII, Roma and Sinti were facing the Nazi persecution in Slovenia, same as in other European countries. Unfortunately discrimination of Roma did not end with the war, we can still find it everywhere in daily life. Today the majority of Roma in Slovenia lives in the Regions of Dolenjska, Gorenjska and Prekmurje, and in industrial centres, such as Ljubljana, Maribor and Velenje. They are constantly facing discrimination and cultural misunderstanding, which results in exclusiveness from society. Low education and high unemployment rate among Roma are creating additional problems.
*Children in Roma settlement in Brezje, photo by Amanda Protidou, 2007, archives of the association ‘Društvo za razvijanje prostovoljnega dela Novo mesto‘.
Exhibition Roma on the Move is familiarizing us with the history of Roma migrations to Europe with the emphasis on Slovenia, their culture and language, as well as the tragic destiny of the forgotten genocide. The exhibition is based on the exhibition Roma on the Move, prepared in 2008 by Academy Graz and Romano Service, and was completed with facts about the history of Roma in Slovenia.
Honorary patron of the project is Human Rights Ombudsman in Slovenia Vlasta Nussdorfer; general sponsor is Austrian Culture Forum. The exhibition project was prepared in cooperation with Roma Union Slovenia, Janko Padežnik Primary School in Maribor, Pavelhaus in Laafeld, and Academy Graz and is a part of the project Shoah – Let Us Remember that is financially supported by International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
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