Prague Forum for Romani Histories

Helena Sadílková: “Strategies Of Participation And Negotiation: Socially Engaged Roma In Post-War Czechoslovakia 1948-1969”


On Wednesday 5 April at 6:00 PM CET, we will be discusing Helena Sadílková’s draft article entitled “Strategies of participation and negotiation: Socially engaged Roma in post-war Czechoslovakia 1948-1969”

Eszter Varsa has kindly accepted to be our discussant.

The text is a draft chapter in a book under preparation on the social and political engagement of the Roma in post-war Czechoslovakia in the first two decades of its existence as a communist state (1948-1969). Based on documents written by socially engaged Roma or reporting on their activities, the text explores their proposed visions and arguments. Contextualizing these in the developments of the state approach to “Gypsies”, the text traces the social spaces in which the activists tested their strategies and visions, as well as the readiness of the communist state to include Roma as partners. The text offers an insight into a development that preceded the establishment of the only Czechoslovak Romani organization sanctioned by the communist state, the Union of Gypsies-Roma (1969-1973), whose leaders participated also in the international Romani movement. The focus on the first 20 years of the efforts of Romani activists in Czechoslovakia at claiming their status as partners in the negotiation of the future of Roma thus offers a much needed sight into the genesis of a Czechoslovak part of this important global development.

Please note: papers presented at the seminar have not been published yet. As a participant of the Romani History Seminar, you agree to respect the intellectual property of the author, i. e. to not reproduce, distribute, display or use their paper, sections of their paper, or their primary sources in any way.

Helena Sadílková is an assistant professor in the Department of Central-European Studies at Charles University in Prague where she also serves as the head of the Seminar of Romani Studies. She was a Ben and Zelda Cohen Fellow at the United Stated Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington (2022). Her major research interests include the post-war history of the Roma in Czechoslovakia, history of state socialism, and socio-political participation of Roma as a historically marginalized community. She is a co-editor-in-chief of the Czech Romani studies journal Romano džaniben (Prague). Her publications include „Asserting a Presence in the Public Sphere: Autobiographies by two Romani Holocaust Survivors in Communist Czechoslovakia“ (together with M. Závodská in Donert C., Rosenhaft E.: The Legacies of the Romani Genocide in Europe since 1945, Routledge, 2022) and „The Postwar Migration of Romani Families from Slovakia to the Bohemian Lands. A Complex Legacy of War and Genocide in Czechoslovakia“ (in Čapková, Adler: Jewish and Romani Families in the Holocaust and its Aftermath, Rutgers University Press, 2020).

Eszter Varsa is a social historian with a Ph.D. in Comparative Gender Studies (Central European University, Budapest, 2011). She was Marie Sklodowska-Curie Intra-European (IEF) Research Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS) in Regensburg (2014-2016) and Romani Rose Fellow at the Research Centre on Antigypsyism at Heidelberg University’s Department of History (2020). Her major fields of research interest include the history of child protection, health/hygiene, reproductive politics, and Roma in 20th century Eastern Europe. Currently, Eszter Varsa is a post-doctoral researcher in the ERC project ZARAH: Women’s Labour Activism in Eastern Europe and Transnationally, From the Age of Empires to the Late 20th Century (Project director: Susan Zimmermann) at Central European University, Vienna.

Zoom registration link:

The draft chapter will be sent by email only to the registered participants.

Romani History Seminar hosts online discussions of unpublished texts, such as dissertation chapters, draft papers, and book chapters. Our goal is to bring together specialists in Romani history and scholars from related fields to provide collective feedback on ongoing historiographical work.

If you would like to discuss your paper at the Romani History Seminar in 2023, please contact one of the organizers below.

Contacts for Romani History Seminar:
Renata Berkyová (
Vita Zalar (
Théophile Leroy (

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