Romani odyssey


history of Roma people



10-25 participant



3 hours



analysis of historical sources, knowledge of the main phases of Roma history


Objectives of the activity:

The activity aims to support participants to reflect about Roma history through the analysis of various sources.


  • To get to know the main phases and events in the history of Roma in Europe, such as the Porrajmos (or Samudaripen) ,the civil-rights movements, the first World Roma Congress, Famous Roma and Sinti people in the world , etc.
  • To familiarize participants with different historic sources and support participants to critically analyze them
  • To clarify relevant terminology such as social reference point, narratives, oral history, integration, inclusion
  • To understand the link between Romani movement and the need of a Roma narrative to support legitimacy


Preparation of the activity:
  • Prepare yourself on issues related with Roma history. Make sure to have enough knowledge to clarify participants’ questions and/or ensure the presence of an expert in the session.
  • Depending on the size of the group, prepare 5 to 8 different historic sources.
    Each hand-out should include guiding questions to support the working groups to analyze the source.
  • Ensure that you have thoroughly gone through the sources and are able to clarify questions related with their origin, intent, critique.


The activity step-by-step
Step 1: Introduction to Roma history and to relevant terminology (90 minutes)

Introduce participants to the main phases of Roma history by introducing their main characteristics. You can build a timeline together with them, making use of the knowledge the group already has. You can make use
of the timeline suggested by the publication “Factsheets on Roma history
Ask participants if they know any tales/stories about their ethnic or national groups’ origins. Share with them one of the fairy tales about the origins of Roma and discuss about the importance of stories on ethno-genesis.
Clarify with participants the important terms for further discussion, such as: history, narrative, historical source, minority, reference point.

Step 2: Small group work on historical sources (45 minutes)

Split participants in small groups and distribute to each group a historic source to analyse. Ask them to read the texts, and use the guiding questions to analyse the source. You can use the sources in the appendix or prepare others that are relevant at the local level. For each of the sources, the groups will find general guiding questions and specific ones.
The groups should be able to summarize the conclusions of their discussions in a 5 minute presentation to the plenary.

Step 3: Presentation of the group work and debrief (45 minutes)

Ask participants to present the results of their work in the plenary. Allow only clarification questions at this moment from the group.



Lead a discussion with the group on the following questions:

  • Do all sources have a historical relevance? Why? Why not?
  • What are the differences between the Roma and non-Roma narratives? What makes the difference relevant?
  • What is the importance of Roma narratives on Roma history for a Romani social movement?
  • What is the importance of oral history for the Roma narratives?
  • What is multiple perspectives in historical writing? How can we have a narrative accepted by the mainstream?



The work with sources is very important in the small working groups, especially the discussion among participants. If the participants do not follow the guiding questions, the facilitators can remind them, but try not to influence the discussion too much.


How to further adapt

You can use sources relevant for the local history of the Roma community. You can also transform the introductory part into an activity of its own to allow participants to learn more about the history of the Roma.

Ideas for action and follow-up
  • Young people can do a research on history school books to see if there is any information about Roma or other minorities and how this is presented.
  • Invite young people to do interviews in the community about important events in history of the Roma (i.e. interviews about the Holocaust)


  • Sources for group work
  • Projector with screen and speakers
  • Flip chart paper and markers for group presentations

Group discussion questions:

  • What is the source about?
  • What makes the source Roma or Roma-related?
  • What is the target group for the source?
  • Was the source produced by Roma or non-Roma? Why?
  • Do Roma know the source?
  • What are the main issues addressed in it related to the social inclusion of Roma?
  • How does the Charter define Roma History? 
  • According to the Charter what does Romanipe mean? 
  • How would you define the target group of the Charter?

Here are some important points of the charter for your working group:



Roma is; who avows oneself to the common historical Indo- Greek origin, who avows oneself to the common language of Romanes, who avows oneself to the common cultural heritage of the Romanipe. 


Every person of our people has the right to self-determined designation, identity and community. Every person has the right to freely practice his/her religion, culture and tradition. Romanipe is based on unity through diversity.


States shall ensure that Roma history, origin and fate, persecution and community are included in school curricula. To this end, States and international institutions shall develop such curricula in collaboration with Roma institutions and integrate  them without delay into their educational systems.


For more than six centuries, we Roma have lived here in Europe. Our history has been marked by Antiziganism1 , slavery, discrimination, persecution, expulsion, violence and genocide; this history has been written with our people’s blood.


We Roma have been deprived of recognition as a national minority group so far. Traditionally, we are regarded as a social fringe group, as a social problem that is to be “integrated” by means of disciplinary measures and state repression.


Our fate has been determined by self-appointed experts and specialists; our history has been written by linguists and gypsyiologists.


By discrimination against our language, customs, tradition and culture, by falsification of our history and our identity, the breeding ground for European Antiziganism was created.



The evaluations of the seminars will conduct with written questionnaires, in order to get an individual perspective of the participants. The questionnaire look into the personal experience, reflections of certain sessions and overall impressions and learning achievements. Additionally, we will  conduct some evaluation activities in order to get a group perspective and interactive evaluation on a series of issues. We will set up four corners in the room. In the first corner (graffiti wall) the participants can leave a last message for the group. In the second corner they will have to put a point on a target, where we asked how familiar did they become with the main topics of the study session (challenging antigypsyism). In the third corner they  will have a more personal task, they will be asked to share a secret with each other. In the last corner the participants will be asked to reflect what their biggest surprise was during the seminar and during the week.