Home » U Velto – Il Mondo, news and images from the Sinti and Roma worlds: RemAgainstDisc, combating discrimination by rediscovering historical memory

U Velto – Il Mondo, news and images from the Sinti and Roma worlds: RemAgainstDisc, combating discrimination by rediscovering historical memory

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U Velto – Il Mondo, news and images from the Sinti and Roma worlds: RemAgainstDisc, combating discrimination by rediscovering historical memory

During the Nazi-Fascist regimes, Roma and Sinti were persecuted, discriminated against and exterminated in concentration camps. Despite this, anti-gypsyism did not end with the advent of democracy, also due to the lack of historical knowledge of discrimination and the facts caused by it, and some prejudices have survived, making the paths of inclusion of these people difficult.

For this reason, the Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights, Sucar Drom, Associazione 21 Luglio and the University of Florence have been working for two years on the ‘RemAgainstDisc’ project (Strengthening the historical memory of Porrajmos to fight discrimination).

The aim of the project was to recover the historical memory of those events, making it usable through the renovation of the first virtual museum of Porrajmos and, starting from this, raising public awareness of the historical origin of some prejudices and thus overcoming the discrimination that Roma and Sinti still suffer today.

To do this, the project combined activities aimed at the general public and others aimed at specific professional categories that can play a great role in the inclusive path and in overcoming anti-Gypsyism.

The project was funded under the CERV-2021-CITIZENS-REM Call of the European Commission and received a total contribution of €134,785.00.

The work done

The objectives of the project were multiple: first of all to recover the historical memory of the Porrajmos, the extermination of Roma and Sinti which occurred at the hands of the Nazi-Fascist regimes in the last century; through the recovery of this historical memory and of the prejudices and stereotypes that had made discrimination and persecution possible, contribute to the construction of more inclusive and more integrated societies, reaching some specific categories that impact the life path of Roma and Sinti; finally, ensuring that project activities could continue beyond the end of the project and were replicable.

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From this point of view, the objectives set have been achieved.

The historical research, conducted by the University of Florence and the Sucar Drom Association, has found materials and stories that have made it possible to reconstruct the period between 1943 and 1945, which is still missing, testifying to how there were deportations of Roma and Sinti towards the Nazi concentration camps. This research was presented at the University of Florence and made available to the scientific community, but not only.

The collected materials converged, together with those already present, in the first virtual museum of Porrajmos, which as part of the project underwent a profound revision, both in terms of content and in visual terms, guaranteeing wider navigability. Translated into English it represents an indispensable and fundamental tool for studying this history and building memory. Already several schools, as well as the communities themselves, have used it in their institutional activities, as a tool for information and testimony.

Starting from this historical recovery, three toolkits were created, aimed at social workers, teachers and political decision-makers, categories who, in their respective roles, can have an impact on the lives of Roma and Sinti. The first two categories, at the level of social and scholastic integration, while political decision-makers can influence the overcoming of the mega Roma camps, until now widely used in Italy, and in promoting housing policies that guarantee and encourage the inclusion of these people.

In addition to the creation of these toolkits, a series of meetings with people belonging to these categories were promoted, to spread the toolkits, but also build awareness and paths for change.

It is precisely on these meetings that the continuity of the work begun in this project is based, even after its conclusion. In fact, further meetings will be promoted, fully falling within the scope of the institutional activities of the partner institutions. As regards those with political decision makers, in some cases they have served to promote actions that continue and which will lead, this is the objective, to the overcoming of the greatest number of Roma mega camps in the coming months/years.

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Results and impacts

The project achieved the following results:

– Renew and expand knowledge and historical memory relating to the extermination of Roma and Sinti during the Nazi-Fascist regimes. This result was achieved through new historical research based on unpublished materials and research in historical archives. Making this new mass of historical materials available to scholars, academics and citizens. During the project, a meeting was also held with representatives of some school publishing houses, in order to present the results of the research to them and suggest the inclusion of specific spaces intended for Porrajmos on the texts used in schools. The meeting aroused great interest and the expected impact is that there may be new editions of some school textbooks that go in this direction.

– Renovate the first virtual museum of Porrajmos, making it a place where this story is told and documents and testimonies are collected. Guarantee widespread knowledge of the persecution and extermination of the Roma and Sinti, a place of memory for the benefit of communities and citizens, which can also be used in schools for the study of that historical period and for the initiatives that take place every year in month of January 27th, on the occasion of Remembrance Day.

– Build broader knowledge on Roma and Sinti culture and implement good practices aimed at teachers, social workers and political decision-makers, professional figures who are fundamental for the inclusion of these people, so that, each in their own sphere, they can carry out positive actions for prevention of any form of discrimination. This result was achieved through the implementation of toolkits and a series of meetings involving around 200 people. These toolkits will be used to continue the work even after the end of the project so that both the meetings held and future ones make the good practices reported effective.

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– As regards political decision makers, starting from the meetings held, participatory paths have been inaugurated in some cities for overcoming the mega Roma camps, which should lead to the closure of some of them and to inclusive housing policies.

The project has therefore achieved results in the short term, opening up the possibility of continuing the work in the medium and long term, with activities that will become part of the institutional interventions of the majority of beneficiaries.

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