The Romani Studies Program at Central European University invited applications last year for the Applied Research Fellowship in Romani Studies. The selection committee of RSP selected the four most fascinating projects among the thirteen applications. The fellowship supports innovative and critical research into the impact of a specific policy measure or program seeking to promote the equality of Romani people, fighting antigypsyism, or promoting Romani arts and culture.
I have a sociology and a public policy degree, from the University of Pécs and from the Central European University. My studies, work and research have always been related to the disadvantaged, mostly Roma people. I myself come from a Roma family, this is maybe the strongest driving force and motivation in my academic and work- activities.
My research at CEU RSP is about the decision making processes of Roma people in transitions between their different life-stages. It is focusing on three generations (grandparents, parents and young adults) considers the gender differences (female and male interviewees are involved from all the generations), and also takes into account the territorial differences as well in Hungary (examining the most disadvantaged and the most advantaged towns in the country).
The research shows the main motivation of people in the respected categories at the milestones of their life, and also their difficulties and solutions. This can show a pattern of returning and persistent obstacles of Roma, so that recommendations to the mainstream and also to the especially Roma-concerned policies regarding education and employment can be created.
The methodology is actually an intergenerational qualitative research method: structured interviews among families in Győrszemere (4 families) and Uszka (4 families), and also structured interviews with the local Roma leaders. The fieldwork is based on data analysis and desk research, as well as literature review of the related studies.
The research can be a good use for being a base for further research.
During the COVID pandemic-related quarantine period, I reshaped the whole research several times, changed the methodology, the criteria for selection process, etc, however, I did not change the objective of the research: the main aim, from the very beginning, is to get a sense about how the Roma people take decisions when they get to work from school or change workplaces.
It would be extremely interesting to continue the research and do the same fieldwork among non-Roma people, so that the differences of the Roma and non-Roma research results would emphasize even more the Roma-specific problems, as well as would enlighten the systemic defaults of the different policies in the country.
Dr. Justyna Matkowska
She is a Roma activist and researcher. She earned her Ph.D. in Humanities at the University of Wrocław in Poland in 2020. She holds a MA and BA in the Polish Literature and Language Studies from the University of Wroclaw. She also graduated from Postgraduate Romani Studies Program at the Pedagogical University of Cracow, Poland, and Hawai'i English Language Program at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, USA.
In 2016-2018 she worked as Plenipotentiary of the Governor of Lower Silesia for the National and Ethnic Minorities. Prior to her visiting research position at CEU RSP and Ph.D. defense, she worked as an adjunct faculty at the Hawai'i Pacific University in the USA.
My research focused on the images of Romani women in contemporary Polish and Romani literary texts. The main goal of the study was to compare the representations of Romani women and show the process of shaping their description in Romani and Polish literature. The research result showed how the perception of Romani women influenced the artistic imagination of Poles and Roma (female and male) and their literary discourses. It allows us to put forward and verify a thesis about the role of literature in perpetuating stereotypical, mythicized, and idealized images of Romani women.
First, I am glad that I had this opportunity to be a fellow of the Romani Studies Program at CEU. Having a fellowship at CEU was an incredibly valuable experience for me. I am deeply satisfied with the fellowship. Everything was well organized and clear. I wish to have more opportunities to cooperate or work with you in the future.
Dr. Ozan Uştuk
He is an Instructor of Anthropology at İzmir Institute of Technology, where he is also appointed as the coordinator of Civil Involvement Projects. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication Sciences from Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, for which he studied how local labour market relations affect the identity construction of Roma people. He conducted an ethnographic fieldwork among Roma people in an incarcerated hyper-ghetto neighbourhood, by particularly focusing on their spatial and social marginalization. He also earned a M.Sc. in the field of Anthropology and a B.A. in Sociology. His research interests are intercultural communication, labour relations, identity politics and infrastructural problems Roma people in Turkey experience. He is the author and co-author of several scientific articles and has been involved in a number of inter-disciplinary research projects. He has actively collaborated with different local and national Roma organizations, NGO’s and governmental agencies since 2014.
The Research Project
This applied research titled Breaking Intercultural Barriers through Volunteering: Empowering Roma Children in Educational Settings seeks to empower Roma children in educational settings by utilizing a civic volunteering practice, which aims at training elementary school teachers to build a more inclusive and constructive class environment. This project is important not just for the production of academic knowledge about this specific research topic employing ethnographic methodologies, but also for reinforcing the intercultural communication between Roma and mainstream society. The strength of this project is its interdisciplinary perspective, drawing concepts and methods from anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies. The findings of the research will be disseminated as scholarly articles as well as a written report on the project that will be shared with various institutions such as municipalities, Turkish Roma Associations, universities, and public libraries.
The greatest aspect of this fellowship has been its potential for scholarly exchange; it connected me to several successful academics with whom I had a great deal of intellectual conversations which in return enhanced my work significantly.
Conducting this project during the pandemic has taught me to be flexible, adapting my methods to investigate the topic. Instead of a traditional ethnographic fieldwork, I had to employ “patchwork ethnography”, which refers to “ethnographic processes and protocols designed around short-term field visits, using fragmentary yet rigorous data” (Günel et al. 2020). All in all, this whole experience has encouraged me to seek new ways of doing my research
My name is Atanas Stoyanov and I am originally from Bulgaria. In the last fifteen years I have been actively involved in the work of a number of Roma civil society organisations in Bulgaria, Hungary, the UK and Belgium. Since 2015 I live and work in Brussels. I hold a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Central European University as well as primary teacher’s qualification from Bulgaria and Wales, the UK. Living and working in Brussels in the last five years was fascinating because it allowed me to be part of a number of meetings dedicated to the European Roma inclusion, get to know people, structures and processes.
The Research Project
My research is titled ‘What makes a measure relevant?’ and it is provoked by the last 2019- report of the European Commission on the implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.
Yet, European institutions machinery is famous for its bureaucracy and complexity and one can easily get lost in this maze of who is who, who is doing what and what the procedures are. I have always been a person trying to make sense of the world around and questioning the status-quo. Therefore, I was puzzled when I read the last 2019-report on Roma inclusion. It didn’t make any sense to me: it is showing questionable quantitative comparisons between Member States that are collected in very secretive ways. And as I am Roma myself and these reports directly concern me, I started asking myself what information does the European Commission collect for such a report; who is involved in data collection; why national reports are not visible but European reports are; what happens with all this reporting about Roma from 2012 to 2020; does it bring any change to Roma? In a nutshell, this is what my research is about. I sincerely hope that it will lead to somewhat improvement in the work of European and national policy makers reporting on Roma inclusion, and, what is for sure, it will help everyone who is interested in Roma inclusion to better understand the process of reporting Roma inclusion from national to EU level. I still haven’t decided where my research will be published, I hope my colleagues will help me find the answer. What I am sure about is that this research, and rather a synthesized article-version of it, will be online, so that everyone can have an access to it.
I am very glad to be a fellow of the CEU Romani Studies Program because personally for me it is a sort of ‘reconnection’ or ‘reunion’, having in mind that I have been part of the Roma Graduate Preparation Program back in time. It is such a pleasure to be able to stay in touch with your university, even after graduation. I am blessed to work with people that are well-known in academia and whose papers I have cited in my master’s thesis: all in all, this brings me a feeling of satisfaction – being able to work with professionals I value. Not to forget that being involved in this fellowship program I also got to know new fellow young researchers, with whom, I hope, after these difficult 2020-pandemics times, I will be able to meet in person in near future. Luckily, we live in the age of internet communication and conducting my research is affected only to the extend that I need to meet people online, instead of in person. Of course, nothing can replace the personal face-to face communication between people.
After my research is over, I will be more than happy to find an interactive way where I can share my conclusions with a broader audience. I have to admit, that during writing it, I am simultaneously part of the civil society consultations for the post-2020 period of Roma inclusion, where I am trying to share my insights and bring a real change.