International Symposium on Notions of Romani Origin

Avishek Ray Announcement
Subject Fields
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Intellectual History, South Asian History / Studies

The claim in support of the Romani community’s Indian origin -- what the Orientalists first propounded is now reinforced by Genetics -- was, during the 18-19th centuries, premised upon the homophony between Romani and Indian languages. This was in line with notions of ‘border thinking’ so pervasive within the Orientalist discourse, and has since then provoked classist vis-à-vis confrontations and ideological practices of territorializing ‘differential space’ (Lefebvre, 1992). Taking off from here, this symposium seeks to reflect on:

  • Why and how did the originary myth of the Romani travel across borders?
  • Why despite an arguable methodology this claim was widely accepted?
  • Why are linguists and scholars since the eighteenth century obsessed with ‘re-discovering’ the ‘primordial’ connection between ‘India’ and the ethos of wandering?
  • How do we make sense of the obtrusive Indianization of the ‘genealogical fantasy’ that traces the ‘undesirable’ Romani to the outside?
  • How does Europe’s paranoia about the Romani take ride, for example, in the postcolonial Indian context?
  • How has the originary myth been leveraged so as to evoke ethos of ‘Indo-Aryan’ fraternity in the Indian imagination, while public discourses concerning the ‘Romani’ in Europe still mostly invoke fear and anxiety?
  • How exactly does the myth of the Indic origin override other contentious claims -- the Slovene scholar Franc Miklošič (1813-1891), for example, had traced the Romani to a Greek origin –, and continue to be unreflectively, but unequivocally accepted in the ‘Indian’ imagination? The Indian Union Minister for External Affairs – at the inauguration of the International Roma Conference and Cultural Festival 2016 in New Delhi -- crediting the Romanies to have ‘maintained Indian traditions in the countries that were unaware of India’ is illustrative of obtrusive Indianization of the trope.

The agenda of the symposium is not to assess the veracity of the originary claim(s), but rather to reflect on how such truth claims are furnished, the ideological, epistemological and discursive implications thereof, and how they continue to be (re)appropriated. We seek abstracts that probe into these issues from a wide variety of perspectives and disciplines, with focus on Europe or India. That being said, abstracts with trans-regional or comparative focus are particularly welcome.


A reputed academic press has expressed preliminary interest in publishing an edited volume emerging out of this symposium. Consequently, we plan to include select presentations in the volume.

Application and costs:

Prospective presenters may send a 250-word abstract and a brief bio-note as a single word or PDF attachment to  by October 31st, 2018. We will revert with a decision by November 15th, 2018]. Put ‘Abstract: Romani Symposium_[Your Surname]’ in the subject-head of your email.

There is no organizational fee. The participants should be able to cover their own travel expenses while limited funds for accommodation will be provided by the host.

Contact Information

Dimiter Dimov | Centre for Advanced Study Sofia (Bulgaria)

Avishek Ray | National Institute of Technology Silchar (India)



Contact Email