The Archive RomaniPhen sees itself as a political project that documents anti-racist and feminist Romani movements as well as the work and biographies of individuals. In addition, RomaniPhen engages in active analysis and current political debate of the collected knowledge. It is not the collection of history alone that is important to us, but its current explanations and interpretations by Romani people within a self-organized and socio-critical framework.
The title RomaniPhen is derived from two meanings: the “RomaniSister“ and the “culture/language/history” of the Romani people. The concept of culture contained in the title is in no way directed at the preservation and further transmission of any customs. Rather, we are concerned with the diverse cultures of resistance, survival, social interpretation, historical testimonies and analyses, as well as the social participation of Romani people.
A separate Romani archive is necessary because the stories of Romani people are either racially generalized or not told at all in public.
For centuries, modified and updated discourses about Romani people as a homogeneous collective of “maladjusted criminals” who voluntarily stood outside society have prevailed in the time. Complex, contradictory, heroic or at least normal Romani narratives and individual biographies seem to find little or no place in history’s archives and bookshelves.
As part of the Romnja and Sintizze women’s initiative IniRromnja, these gaps have led us to build a nationwide feminist Romani archive and library in Berlin. The idea for the archive arose from the described experiences of specific discrimination of Romani women at the intersection of race and gender, which leads to the symbolic racialization as “Carmen” and thus to the extensive marginalization of complex and plural self-representations.
The archive sees itself as an explicitly political space and is interested in knowledge that is capable of shaking hegemonic constructions and advancing resistant and critical knowledge from Romani people. The archive emerges under the interpretive power of Romani staff with the task of unearthing buried stories not told in public discourse through detailed research, thus revealing and valuing the richness of the Romanipen and the participation of the phen (sister). For the archive work, on the one hand, it is necessary to uncover knowledge, and on the other hand, it is necessary to present already known knowledge from Romani perspectives.
In the archive we collect stories and biographies as well as textual productions of Romani people as historical figures, as creative designers, as civil rights activists, as art and cultural producers, as scientists, as personalities participating in society.
We do not represent a "Roma culture", but cultural and political practices in the confrontation with social relations of inequality.
We present the material with the help of various cultural, artistic and scientific methods in order to open the space to as many people as possible and to counter the exclusionary character of archives and libraries as excluding places.
The archive is not only aimed at those who directly use the archive, but also wants to help promote a culture of self-esteem, pride, love and “awareness” within the different communities by disseminating the achievements and thoughts of our people.
However, our work is also aimed at all other children, young people and adults,
to reduce prejudices through differentiated education of the public about the history and present of Roma and Sinti with a focus on Romnja and Sintizze.
We also develop and provide pedagogical professionals with discrimination-critical and didactically prepared material and methods for their work, especially in political education.
We publish the Romnja*Power annual calendar, educational materials and organize the Romnja*Power Month together with IniRromnja.