Antiziganism Research Unit at Heidelberg University
28. July 2017
Researchers to investigate the exclusion of Sinti and Roma in history and the present
A research unit to study the topic of the exclusion, discrimination and persecution of Sinti and Roma from a historical perspective has taken up its work at Heidelberg University. The Antiziganism Research Unit is the result of a treaty signed in November 2013 between the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Baden-Württemberg state branch of the German Sinti and Roma Association. Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel, President of Heidelberg University, hosted the inaugural event on 28 July 2017. Also present at the festive opening ceremony were Theresia Bauer, Baden-Württemberg’s minister responsible for research, Daniel Strauss, chair of the state branch, and Romani Rose, chair of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.
Theresia Bauer underlined: “By supporting the Antiziganism Research Unit we are sending a signal – against silence, for enlightenment. At the same time, Baden- Württemberg is also respecting its historical commitment to Sinti und Roma.” Funding for the new research unit comes from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts. Its mandate is to take up fundamental issues surrounding the causes, forms and consequences of antiziganism in European societies from the Middle Ages to the present.
“Starting from the persistent stigmatisation of Sinti and Roma our purpose is to examine stereotypes, prejudices and the resultant mechanisms of exclusion. This has to take place on a firm historical foundation and in the framework of the still young discipline of antiziganism research. It is an assignment of great academic, social and political urgency,” explained Prof. Dr Edgar Wolfrum. The Heidelberg contemporary historian conceptualised the research unit together with staff from the group working on Minority History and Civil Rights in Europe. Its mandate also includes interdisciplinary research studies in the context of racism, violence and inclusion research. To this end, cooperation will be sought with different departments within the university, along with partners from other research institutions.
The Antiziganism Research Unit is based at Heidelberg University’s Department of History. Besides the academic director, it will comprise two experienced researchers from this field; furthermore, two doctoral scholarships will be available to foster young researchers. The research staff will also hold seminars and lectures. With the research unit, the initiators are reacting to the fact that there had been no separate research unit or professorial chair in Germany in this field.
As University President, Prof. Eitel welcomed the guests at the ceremony. Theresia Bauer and Daniel Strauss brought greetings in their respective capacity. Prof. Wolfrum then described the upcoming activities of the new research unit. Finally, it was given a warm send-off by Romani Rose, who is also chair of the Heidelberg-based Documentation and Culture Centre of German Sinti and Roma.