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Culture, Confidence and Community – the new European Roma Institute (ERI)

A guest blog by Professor Colin Clark

On March 26th George Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations, and Thorbjørn Jagland, secretary-general of the Council of Europe published a co-authored article entitled ‘Why we are setting up a European Roma Institute’ (Soros and Jagland, 2015).

Although less than 700 words in length, this European Voice article contains the foundations and promise of a symbolic and actual paradigm shift for up to 12 million Romani lives and livelihoods. The authors point out that although at the heart of Europe, the diffuse Romani communities spread across the territory have been denied an institution that can strategically and sensitively convey and represent heterogeneous issues of Romani culture, identity and politics.

The time has now come, argue Soros and Jagland, to change this reality: social exclusion and economic deprivation must transform into meaningful opportunity and material outcomes across areas of art, politics, music, life. The European Roma Institute, they suggest, is the vehicle to deliver this. At heart, this is the radical and fundamental paradigm shift that has been a long time coming in Romani Studies. The promise must now become reality.

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