Re-remembering Porraimos: memories of the Roma Holocaust in post-socialist Ukraine and Russia




Konstantinov, Maria

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This thesis explores the ways in which the Holocaust experiences and memories of Roma communities in post-Socialist Ukraine and Russia have been both remembered and forgotten. In these nations, the Porraimos, meaning the “Great Devouring” in some Romani dialects, has been largely silenced by the politics of national memory, and by the societal discrimination and ostracization of Roma communities. While Ukraine has made strides towards memorializing Porraimos in the last few decades, the Russian state has yet to do the same. I question how experiences of the Porraimos fit into Holocaust memory in these nations, why the memorialization of the Porraimos is important, what the relationship between communal and public memory is, and lastly, how communal Roma memory is instrumental in reshaping the public memory of the Holocaust. I approach these questions through a comparative, interdisciplinary framework that combines historical analysis, interviews with two Russian Roma individuals from St. Petersburg Russia, an overview of existing literature and film that focus on the Porraimos, and a survey of the memorials for Roma victims in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. Using these methods, I determine how the Porraimos fits into political and cultural memory in these nations, and what the future of Porraimos memory might look like.



Roma, Romani, Holocaust, Porraimos, Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Memorial, Interview, post-Socialist, The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics