VIDA’s list of Twenty ‘Gypsy’ Women You Should Be Reading

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Portrait of Papusza, the mother of Romani poetry

I’m so delighted to share my Twenty Gypsy Women You Should be Reading with everyone In honor of Roma and Traveller History Month,. Gypsy culture is vastly misunderstood and underrepresented, and literature is a beautiful way to discover it. You may not have heard of many of these writers before but they will astound you with their talent. Happy reading!

“And while I spend a lot of time on my soap box bellowing that Roma and Travellers are just human, as a storyteller and a poet, I will say that some of the most beautiful, dark, and hauntingly fantastic stories I’ve ever heard or read have been from Gypsies. It’s a MathildeVonThieleworld-view that outsiders would never be able to reach on their own, and I feel this poignantly as a not-quite-white looking girl who grew up knowing that, way back, her Gypsy ancestors sailed up and down the Danube from Germany to Hungary, working as dancers and fortune tellers in the riparian towns before the war tore everything to shreds. Their lives were not idyllic, but the stories my grandmother told were beautiful. I would hold them close to my chest when I was stoned at school, or given detention for “witchcraft and the evil eye” in a town where there were no Gypsies, where my mother and grandmother routinely referred to the Gypsy community (some abstract thing I imagined) as “they” instead of “we.” I worried about my “percentage of Gypsy” and whether or not it was enough to claim. The few practices my grandmother kept and passed down to me didn’t make sense until I began to research my own people when I was a teenager and realized that alienation is also inheritance. I found Papusza, the Mother of Romani poetry and an omen of exile and connection. I stepped into the river-mouth of my blood.”

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My great-great grandmother Mathilde as a young dancer

Romani women making films and taking names! Opre Roma!

Faces of Change is a powerful documentary on the representation of Romani women and the strong, successful, professional Romani women who are raising awareness and making changes for the better. 

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BUVERO- Roma Women Citizen Journalism training- Sheja short Film

“Any violent act committed only against women that causes or may cause physical, sexual or mental damage is considered violence against women; including any threats of these acts, coercion or any arbitrary deprivation of liberty in the public or private sphere.

Violence against women is the most extreme form of women’s discrimination; however, it is only one form of discrimination. The low representation of women in politics (only 8% of the Hungarian members of Parliament are women), the disqualification from and prohibition of learning and exercising the right to vote (in Hungary the women can only vote since 1945 regardless of their financial situation), the “glass ceiling” at work that prevents women from getting promoted, the disparity in salaries between men and women, these are all examples of negative discrimination of women in society.

At the BUVERO Women’s Media Camp, the four members of the team Sheja, led by Kristóf Asbót and Miklós Barna, created a film interpretation of this topic. This short movie is the result of their work in which the four debuting Roma filmmakers introduce themselves.”

Blog 5: Laura Mulvey, the male gaze, and representations of Romani women

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Still-shot from Rear Window, analyzed by Mulvey as an example of “the male gaze.”

We’ve been talking a lot about the sexualization of Romani women, and one of the keystones of feminist aesthetics and psychoanalytic feminist film theory is Laura Mulvey’s groundbreaking work “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” For this week’s blog post, your job is to read Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”! Next, select a clip or photo of a sexualized representation of a Romani woman to analyze using Mulvey’s theory. Use specific examples from the clip  or photo to analyze and support your analysis with at least one quote from Mulvey. Cite using MLA format as you would in a research paper. 300 words minimum and shoot for a balance of 30% summary and 70% analysis. Remember to include the photo or clip in your post so everyone can see what you’re working with.