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VWI invites/goes to...


Cycle of VWI Fellows’ Colloquia


The VWI fellows present their intermediary research results in the context of colloquia which are announced to a small audience and are open to a public audience with an academic and topical interest. The lectures are complemented by a response or commentary by an expert in the given field and are discussed with the other fellows.


Due to the previous lack of an appropriate space, the colloquia were held at other Viennese research and cultural institutions with a topical or regional connection to the given subject. From this circumstance was born the “VWI goes to …” format.


With the move to a new institute building at Rabensteig 3, the spatial circumstances have changed, so that the VWI is now happily able to invite other research and cultural institutions. Therefore, the VWI is now conducting its colloquia both externally and within its own building, in the framework of continued co-operation with other institutions.


The new cycle of fellows’ colloquia “VWI invites/goes to …” is not only able to reach a broader circle of interested persons, but moreover integrates the VWI further into the Viennese scholarly establishment, perhaps even crossing borders into the greater regional research landscape.



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VWI invites/goes to...
Sławomir Kapralski: The Holocaust as a Frame of Memory and the Roma/Sinti Political Movement

Wednesday, 30. October 2013, 18:30 - 20:00

Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie Universitätsstraße 7, 4th floor, HS-C (C0428), 1010 Wien


VWI goes to the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology


The Nazi persecution of Roma, although based on generally shared racist ideology, has been largely inconsistent and irregular, de-centered and de-synchronized. In result, however, ca. 500,000 Roma perished and many Roma communities have been wiped out. This contrast between the effort and the effect has influenced post-war memories of Roma and made it largely fragmented. In my presentation I will analyse the relation between the specific nature of the Nazi persecution of Roma and the Roma memories of their suffering. I will argue that those memories did not form a coherent picture of the past that would be widely shared among Roma. Therefore, the recent “memory boom” with regard to Roma genocide can be interpreted as a process of social construction of victimhood in which memory becomes a marker of identity rather than recollection of the past. With the help of Jeffrey Alexander’s theory of trauma I will argue that in the case of Roma and their memories of genocide we in fact face not a simple phenomenon of remembrance/oblivion, but a socio-cultural process of reconstructing the meaning of the past, caused, among others, by the transformation of Roma identities that followed the shifts of the Roma status in Europe after World War II. The agents of this process have been drawing on various resources, and one of the most important of them has been the discourse of the Holocaust. I would like to briefly present the efforts of Roma activist to be included in that discourse, its presence in contemporary commemorative activities of Roma, as well as its advantages and disadvantages in the context of Roma politics of identity.


Comments by Gerhard Baumgartner


Host and moderation by Wolfgang Kraus


Sławomir Kapralski is Senior Fellow at the VWI.


Gerhard Baumgartner is a former Senior Fellow at the VWI, Professor at the Joanneum Graz.


Wolfgang Kraus is Deputy Chairman of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna


In cooperation with: 


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