The Roma Peoples Project is a start-up initiative at Columbia University that identifies and amplifies new narratives for a global Roma people. The Project creates a space for Roma and non-Roma to share innovative scholarship, narrate experiences, build community and explore the intersectional subjectivity inherent to being Roma in the 21st century.

The Center for Justice at Columbia University serves as the incubator of the Roma Peoples Project and assists in its development. The RPP aligns with the Center’s mission of empowering vulnerable people who suffer from criminalized identities, discrimination, stigma, and lack of inclusion within mainstream society.

Background: The Plight of the Roma People

The Roma originated in Northern India and migrated to Europe about a thousand years ago. Roma subgroups went through periods of nomadism, which is an enduring part of the public perception of “Gypsies”. Today, most of the Roma are sedentary or semi-sedentary, and the population is estimated to be 8-12 million in Europe.

Estimates of the global Roma population size vary, because many Roma hide their ethnicity. Nonetheless, Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority and sizable populations are also found throughout the world. The New York area is a particularly prominent hub for Roma.

Global Significance of the Roma People’s Project

The project reimagines Roma studies as a field of interdisciplinary connection, bridging scholarship on identity, stigma, mobility and displacement. Historically, Roma Studies have occupied a marginal position in academia, receiving little scholarly attention. In many ways, this reflects the broader situation of the Roma, a people without a country of their own, who lack space in academic and mainstream societies for belonging, expressing their identities and accessing quality education.

Although there are large Roma populations in the United States, they are underrepresented in academia and society at large. The Roma Peoples Project works to counter this limited visibility and empower Roma in the U.S. and worldwide, inspiring a new generation of Roma to feel a sense of pride in their cultural identity.

There are many meaningful and diverse Roma stories to be told, shared, and heard. The Roma Peoples Project aims to bring Roma Studies to the forefront of academia and global narratives, creating spaces for Roma people to connect and share their stories.

If you are interested to learn more about the Roma Peoples Project please contact Cristiana Grigore at cristiana.grigore@columbia.edu.


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