HOW DO ROMA REMEMBER? (Jak Romowie pamietaja?)
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(Title in Roma language: Sar seren/leparen o Rroma?). (A polemics with Michael Stewart's article Remembering without commemoration: the mnemonics and politics of Holocaust memories among European Roma, 'Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute' nr 10, 2004) In the recent years the traditional approach to Roma as „people without history and memory' has been challenged, among others, by a new perspective that assumes that even if Roma do not consciously reflect upon their past, the past is „remembered'for them due to the fact that it is in a way „stored' or „embedded' in the nature of the relations between Roma and non-Roma. Such an „implicit memory' approach, represented by Michael Stewart, means a step forward since it has assumed a more sophisticated concept of social memory. Nevertheless, it shares with the older approach the essentialized concept of Roma identity. With a help of Lech Mroz's conception of Romani „non-memory that does not mean forgetting', I am developing my criticism of Stewart's argument as (1) treating the Roma as a passive and static group formed by external determinants; (2) homogenizing the diversity of Romani life; (3) presenting a monolithic picture of the non-Roma world; (4) seeing a firm borderline between Roma and non-Roma while we should rather speak here of a liminal frontier zone; (5) neglecting the actual cases of active remembrance among Roma, supported by Romani commemorative ceremonies. In the end, I am suggesting that in contemporary „postmodern condition' the Romani practices of memory and identity do not radically differ from the non-Romani ones, especially those influenced by traumatic historical experience.
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