Project Untold Stories–Povești Nespuse: 160 years since the abolition of Roma Slavery in Romania

Posted 2nd February 2016


How do Roma people claim an identity? How can Roma people reclaim an identity when fundamental parts of their history remain untold and when the links between the past and the present are not being discussed? What are our stories? Who is telling the history? Whose history is being told and how? 

It is with great pleasure that we are announcing the online launching of a new Collection of Roma Fairy Tales! The collection is available in three different languages: English, Romani and Romanian.
The  Collection of Roma Fairy Tales is part of a larger project initiated by Alina Şerban in 2014, the Untold Stories project.  

The Untold Stories project is intended for an international audience and aims to increase awareness of the cultural and social history of the Roma population through artistic events and research. The fairy tales presented in this volume were collected and written down by Roma actress, playwright and researcher Alina Şerban in Bucharest, Romania.
 
Alina Şerban is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London (MA Theatre Lab programme) and Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is currently a supported artist by Tara Arts and Arts Council England.
           
Alongside the Collection of Roma Fairy Tales, the project features research articles, as well as a reading performance of the play The Great Shame. These are focused on the struggle to voice and address the 500 year old history of Roma slavery in Romania and on the struggle to assert one’s Roma identity. The Great Shame is set to first be presented to the public on the 20th of February in Bucharest, on the anniversary of 160 years since the abolition of Roma Slavery in Romania.
 
It is particularly important that Roma voices be heard in a Romania and a Europe often and increasingly marked by racism and rejection of immigrants or minorities. The Untold Stories platform aims to fight against the increasing patronizing and hostile silencing and marginalization that Roma people face all over Europe, through artistic expressions and research.
The website’s English version is regularly updated!
 
Therefore we invite you to engage with a piece of Roma culture, with fairy tales about houses made of salt, brave girls, merciful boys, resourceful children, dragons and emperors, in which injustices, adventures and courage are to be found in abundance. They represent a small window into a very important but often marginalized Roma cultural heritage.  Enjoy your reading!
 
The Collection of Roma Fairy Tales can be found here: http://povestinespuse.eu/en/resources/roma-fairy-tales/
 
Alina Şerban’s experiences as a Roma woman, both in Romania as a member of an ethnic minority and later in New York and UK, motivated her to start a platform promoting the expression of Roma voices and histories. The Untold Stories project is a cultural and research endeavor aiming to make visible untold stories of Roma culture and history, through cultural publications, social research and theatre events. In her work Alina Şerban draws from her and her closest ones’ life stories. Thus the fairy tales presented in this volume mainly come from her Auntie Veta, who has shared with us some of the Roma fairy tales that have been preserved orally through time. Passed down from generation to generation, these stories are now told in present-day Bucharest and illustrate various sides of Roma imagination, identity and memory.
 
Project Untold Project is currently funded through PA17/RO13 – Promoting diversity in culture and art in the framework of the European cultural patrimony, Financial Mechanism SEE 2009-2014, small projects area.

 

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