Recent Conference: Criminalization-Surveillance-Resistance: Roma and Policing from the Holocaust to the Present

A virtual workshop co-sponsored by CAS explored the history of race and policing through the experiences of European Roma from the late 19th century through the Holocaust and into the present.
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A virtual workshop presented by the Center for Austrian Studies, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and the Institute for Global Studies explored the history of race and policing through the experiences of European Roma from the late 19th century through the Holocaust and into the present.

Scholars from across the US, Europe, and beyond will addressed the confluence of the criminalization and racialization of the category of “Gypsy,” the role of the police in the persecution and genocide of Roma in the Holocaust, and the legacies of this history for Romani communities to the present day.

The program opened with a roundtable of scholars and activists who addressed the contemporary stakes of the history of the criminalization and police persecution of Roma in Europe and explore resonances with parallel histories of race and policing in the American context.


Officials check the papers of a Romani woman at the Renningen "Gypsy camp" in Koeln.
German police check the papers of a Romani woman interned in the Rennigen Gypsy Camp, one of a number of municipal detention camps set up by German towns and cities in the mid-1930s to imprison Roma and Sinti (Cologne, Germany, 1937). Bundesarchiv, Bild-146-1990-104-16A, via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, September 16th Session: 

Criminalization-Surveillance-Resistance: A Roundtable Discussion on Roma, Race, and Policing 

Moderator: Christopher Robertson, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota


Petra Gelbart, Curator for Music, RomArchive 

Nadja Greku, Central European University

Cristiana Grigore, Founding Director, Roma People’s Project, Columbia University 

Sunnie Rucker-Chang, Associate Professor, Slavic & East European Languages and Cultures, The Ohio State University 


German police stand guard at an assembly point in Hohenasperg, where Gypsies await deportation to the General Government in Poland.
A German police officer guards Sinti and Roma during their deportation from an assembly camp to labor camps in occupied Poland (Asperg, Germany, May 1940). Bundesarchiv, R 165 Bild-244-52, via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, September 22 Sessions: 

Session I: Constructing the Gypsy Threat: Roma at the Nexus of Race and Criminalization

Moderator: Hilde Hoffmann, Researcher, Institute for Media Studies, Ruhr University Bochum


Ilsen About, Assistant Professor, CNRS, IRIS, EHESS, Paris

  • The International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) and the “Gypsy Question” in Europe, 1924-1940: Theories, practices and consequences

Habiba Hadziavdic, Adjunct Faculty in Modern and Classical Languages, University of St. Thomas

  • Persisting Tropes in the Filmic Representations of European Roma

Chelsi West Ohueri, Assistant Professor, Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies, University of Texas, Austin

  • Constructing the Gabel: examining surveillance and criminalization in the production of racialized Romani Identities in Albania


Jennifer Illuzzi, Associate Professor of History, Providence College

Session II:

The Role of the Police in the Persecution of Roma during the Holocaust 

Moderator: Justyna Matkowska, Postdoctoral Fellow, Adam Mickiewicz University and Lecturer, University at Albany


Pavel Baloun, Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of History of the Czech Academy of Sciences

  • Czechoslovak “Wandering Gypsies”: A Legislative Term and Its Practice in the Interwar Period

Benjamin Thorne, Associate Professor of History, Wingate University

  • "Everyone Knows They Are All Criminals”: Institutional Bias and Police Brutality Against Roma during the Romanian Holocaust

Jan Láníček, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities & Languages, University of New South Wales

  • Ordinary Gendarmes? Czech Police Forces and the Holocaust in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia


Sheer Ganor, Assistant Professor of History, University of Minnesota


A German racial hygienist and a police officer interview a Romani woman.
German police accompany a racial scientist interviewing a Romani woman (Germany, late 1930s). Bundesarchiv, R 165 Bild-244-71, via Wikimedia Commons.

Session III: Legacies of Genocide: Romani Communities in the Aftermath of the Holocaust

Moderator: Dr. Maria Bogdan, Media theorist and social scientist; Lecturer at the Romani Studies Program of Central European University


Margareta Matache, Director, Roma Program, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University

  • Practices of Denial and Distortion of the Samudaripen/Porrajmos in Southeastern Europe

Ioanida Costache, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities, University of Pennsylvania 

  • Race, Genocide, and Romani Life: Legacies of Persecution

Ana Ivasiuc, Lecturer in the Anthropology of Crime and Security, Department of Anthropology, Maynooth University

  • The Racial Policing of the Roma in Contemporary Italy

Anabel Carballo Mesa, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Barcelona

  • Romane Zorako: Historic Roma and Sinti Resilience 

Respondent: Ari Joskowicz, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and European Studies, Vanderbilt University


Conference organizing committee:

Krista Hegburg, Alice Lovejoy, Alejandro Baer, Jamele Watkins, Joe Eggers, Klaas van der Sanden, Nikolina Lazetic, and Dylan Mohr.



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