Critical Approaches in Romani Studies and Beyond Conference 2023

      Racism, Justice, Environment: Critical Approaches in Romani Studies and Beyond   


Date:                                     June 1-2, 2023

Venue:                                  Central European University, Vienna and online

1-2 June 2023 Hybrid conference organized by the Romani Studies Program at Central European University in collaboration with the Environmental and Social Justice Action Research Group at CEU, the Roma Program at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, the Critical Romani Studies Department at Södertörn University and the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture Across Europe, numerous Roma communities live in environmentally hazardous areas with restricted access to water, sanitation, and waste removal, with their land, water, and air contaminated by waste dumps, industrial farms, mines or abandoned industrial areas, and with unavailable public infrastructure and access to green zones. The uneven distribution of environmental harms and benefits significantly contribute to the inequities Roma people face in health. This gap will further grow along with the impact of climate change. The present climate crisis is rooted in structures of extractive capitalism and white supremacy, i.e. the maximization of profit by exploiting natural resources and subjugated, racialized communities. The common origin of the climate crisis and racism is the unregulated accumulation of wealth. Because the rate of profit tends to fluctuate and fall, capitalist societies have to move anew to plunder lands and people and resort to cruel modes of creating capital. The civilized space of legality and democracy is often dependent on the racist and extractive spaces of unregulated accumulation. However, it is under this perspective that we can also see a return of an allegedly ungovernable, overexploited actors - nature and oppressed racialized groups re-asserting their agency in fighting the colonial domination of exploitative and extractive governance. The conference seeks to promote the participation of Romani scholars and professionals in documenting and shaping academic, professional, and popular discourse to counteract past practices of exploitation and exclusion. Moreover, the conference aims to facilitate a knowledge exchange between various scholars and professionals from social, historical, environmental, architecture and urbanism, and climate disciplines. Selected papers will be published in a thematic issue of the journal Critical Romani Studies. Earlier issues are available at

Draft program:

Abstracts and biographies:

After graduating from RGPP, I became interested in  environmental justice work addressing Roma. I have been working on environmental inequalities experienced by Roma for two years. When I saw the call for papers, I was very excited and wanted to be a part of it. For me, this conference was an important opportunity to fight against environmental discrimination against Roma and to make environmental inequalities visible. The conference gave me the opportunity to listen to the work of many researchers working in this field and to create a network to work together. Again I would like to thank the organizing committee.

- Sergen Gul, Conference presenter, 2023

The conference recording is available at:


About the organizers:

The Romani Studies Program at Central European University (RSP) aims to engage scholars, policy makers, and activists in interdisciplinary knowledge production and debate on Roma identity and movement; antigypsyism; social justice and policy making; gender politics; and structural inequality. RSP encompasses the Roma Graduate Preparation Program and the Advanced Certificate in Romani Studies. RSP offers courses for MA and PhD students of CEU and summer courses for graduate students and activist scholars from all over the world. RSP organizes annual academic conferences promoting critical approaches to Romani Studies and publishes Critical Romani Studies an international, interdisciplinary, double blind peer-reviewed open access journal. RSP supports internships and offers various fellowship primarily targeting Romani students and scholars.

The Environmental and Social Justice Action Research Group (ACT JUST) at Central European University is a platform for dialogue, scholarship, and activism in environmental and social justice. In a world that is increasingly complex, people are facing constant challenges  in their everyday lives involving secure meaningful opportunities for sustaining themselves, their families, and the environment.  At the same time, the wealth of opportunity for a very small percentage of the world's population has been expanding resulting in a tremendous rise in social inequality manifested as limitations on access to environmental goods (food, water, air, etc.) and disproportionate exposure to environmental risks.

The Roma Program at the FXB Centre for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University aims to shift Romani studies away from the margins of academic interest and toward a central place in social and political theory and in multidisciplinary and multiregional studies. We seek to put Roma rights on academic and policy agendas in the United States and elsewhere by amplifying the voices of leading and emerging Romani scholars and leaders through research, events, and publications. A cornerstone of our program is the use of participatory action research and case study methodologies to give voice to the issues identified as problematic by Roma themselves, to strengthen the capacity of Roma communities, and to support leadership among Roma youth.

The Critical Romani Studies Department at Södertörn University has the governmental assignment to develop Romani Studies as a field of research and education, including a teacher education in Romani chib. Within research, the department has had a strong focus on human rights, including the right to education, antigypsyism as a particular phenomenon and in comparison with other forms of racism, Romani history, including both the history of persecution and liberation, as well as the Romani language. The department strive to integrate emancipatory and critical perspectives on power and racism in all research and teaching. The department has an institutional agreement with ERIAC, and uses their teaching materials in courses in Romani chib, and their Barvalipe Roma online university lectures in their courses in Critical Romani Studies. 

The European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) has a unique and single mandate as the transnational, European-level organization for the recognition of Roma arts and culture. ERIAC exists to increase the self-esteem of Roma and to decrease negative prejudice of the majority population towards the Roma by means of arts, culture, history, and media. ERIAC acts as an international creative hub to support the exchange of creative ideas across borders, cultural domains and Romani identities. ERIAC aims to be the promoter of Romani contributions to European culture and talent, success and achievement, as well as to document the historical experiences of Romani people in Europe. ERIAC exists to be a communicator and public educator, to disseminate a positive image and knowledge about Romani people for dialogue and building mutual respect and understanding.