Twenty-five years after the collapse of state socialism, a decade after the European Union's eastward enlargement, and at the end of the so-called "Decade of Roma Inclusion", the socio-economic and political situation of Europe's largest ethnic minority remains desperate in many respects. Since the 1990s, the EU has developed a wide-ranging recognitive and redistributive framework that comprises anti-discrimination laws and social inclusion policies, as well as opportunities for the structural funding of development and empowerment projects. Despite the emergence and articulation of these and similar national and international initiatives, the overwhelming majority of Europe's Romani population is still - and on a daily basis - confronted with civic and institutional forms of racism and with the severe consequences of its marginalization. So, where are the possibilities for academic and political responses to these in times of crisis? As I argue elsewhere, the political activism of Roma shares some important characteristics with other social movements, namely the centrality of women's activism that presents itself as a progressive force. This presentation explores how feminist knowledge and gender theory inform Romani activism and critical Romani scholarship in the last two decades. In particular, what the epistemology of women of color and critical race theory could offer for Romani activists and scholars. Moreover, how do these specific theoretical streams locate scholars and activists in the context of academia and in the Romani movement? In what manner can these theories offer a transformation from silence into voice and action?
Angéla Kóczé is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Wake Forest University, Winston Salem (NC). She is also a research fellow at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Sociology and affiliated research fellow at the Center for Policy Studies of Central European University, Budapest. She has published several peer-reviewed academic articles, book chapters in various international presses including Palgrave Macmillan, Ashgate and Central European University Press, as well as several thematic policy papers related to social inclusion, gender equality, social justice and civil society. She is currently preparing a book on Romani women's political representation and social struggles in post-socialist Europe. In 2013, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C., honored Dr. Kóczé with the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award for her interdisciplinary research approach combining community engagement and policy making with in-depth participatory research on the situation of Roma.