The intention of my talk is to review various ways of commemorating the Romani genocide in Eastern Europe, particularly Poland, with an idea to show changing trends in the aesthetics of remembrance. This concept will be introduced as a solution to the problems emerging in the scholarly debate on Romani memory, related to the peculiar nature of the persecution, dispersed and differentiated “communicative memory” of different communities and relative lack (until very recently) of institutionalized “cultural memory” and established patterns of commemoration. My main question is whether we are experiencing here a shift in the aesthetics of remembrance which makes it more “Roma-like”, and thus securing its better resonance among Romanies, while being simultaneously a part of a “zone of encounter” where Romani and non-Romani images of the past are being negotiated. Therefore, I will also point out to the aspects of the past that have been and still are silenced in the described commemorative practices. The evidence will be provided by a comparative study of the Roma Genocide Memorial near Tarnow in Southern Poland and the newly inaugurated Berlin’s memorial of the Sinti and Roma murdered in the Holocaust.
Slawomir Kapralski is a Researcher in the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. He holds Ph.D. in Sociology from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. His research focuses on nationalism, ethnicity and identity, collective memory, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and the Roma communities in Europe. He is a member of the Gypsy Lore Society, European Association for Holocaust Studies, and European Academic Network on Romani Studies. Currently he is a Senior Fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI).