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Kosovo Roma Oral Histories Project Index

"Roma never wanted to be rich; they always searched for happiness in any place, and this is all."
-Feride Hasani, Preoce, Kosovo

Who We Were; Who We Are is an advocacy tool- assembled on behalf of a population that has only recently begun to find its voice.

This project is current as of March 2004.

  • Roma Interviewee Transcripts-
  • Personal lives and histories- a piece of the Kosovar Roma experience. Complete with photos, scans, video and sound clips.
  • The History of Roma in Southeastern Europe & Kosovo-
  • Demographic & historical information on Roma, from their 13th Century appearance in Southeastern Europe to the present. Additional information on Yugoslavia & the Kosovo conflict.
  • Roma Interviewee Site Reports-
  • Information on security & transportation, economy & infrastructure, education and demographics by site. Site Profiles include Gracanica, Livadje, Preoce, Kosovo Polje, Plemetina Sela, Plemetina Camp, Novo Brdo, Prizren and other areas.
  • Kosovar Roma Classifications (Castes, Clans & new Ethnicities)-
  • Descriptions of Roma, Ashkalija, Egyptians, Arlija, Bugurdjije, Gurbeti and others. Includes details on traditional trades, geographic locations and dialectical differences.
  • Kosovar Roma Wedding Traditions-
  • Including information on engagements, the marim� code and bride-prices.
  • Kosovar Roma Music-
  • Sample songs, video footage and song lyrics from Kosovo & Macedonia.
  • Kosovar Roma Holidays-
  • Djurdjevdan/ Herdeljez, Vasilica, Slavas, World Roma Day & others.
  • Kosovar Roma Human Rights Reports & Report excerpts-
  • Reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United States State Department, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other groups regarding the situation of Roma and other minorities in Kosovo & the Former Yugoslavia.
  • Kosovar Roma Politics-
  • Brief notes on 'Roma Leader' positions and the failure of Roma politicians in Kosovo.
  • Kosovar Roma Maps-
  • Topographic and ethnographic maps of Kosovo, including minority concentrations and city maps.
  • Kosovar Roma Education Issues-
  • Brief notes on the current, dismal state of Roma education in Kosovo.
  • Kosovar Roma Photos-
  • Photos from Mahalas across Kosovo.
  • Project Donors, Staff & Implementers-
  • the Open Society Institute, Who We Were; Who We Are project staff, and Balkan Sunflowers/ Communication for Social Development profiles & links.


    Roma Girls, Gracanica, 1960s

    Kosovo in Europe

    Kosovo in Europe 

    The name Roma is used in place of Gypsy- a word with its origins in the misplaced assumption, by Europeans, that the Roma in their midst originated in Egypt. Europe was recently emerging from the dark ages when Roma first appeared there; no one had seen Egyptians in a long time, and things got a bit confused.

    While the word Gypsy has romantic connotations in North America, it is a racist term, as are its many equivalents in the European languages: Zigeuner (German), Cigan (Serbian/ Croatian), Maxhup (Albanian), Athingani (Greek- do not touch), Kipti (Turkish), Gitano (Spanish) and Gitan (French).

    This project exclusively uses the word Roma. It encompasses all sub-groupings. Sometimes, Roma in this project are sub-identified by their particular clan, be it Gurbeti, Muhadjeri, Arlija, Bugurdjije, Ashkalija, or Egyptian (although Egyptian is more a hopeful non- Roma classification than a clan).

    A British �Gypsy� was once asked why his people were called Roma. "'Cos we�re always roamin'," he answered. There is a simpler answer; Roma is the Romanes word for man, or us.

    All place names mentioned in this project- towns, villages, and municipalities- are in listed primarily in Serbian. Where relevant, the Albanian name follows. This is not a reflection of our political beliefs. Serbian names are internationally recognized; new Albanian place-names are not known outside the province.

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