Throughout his life, José Heredia Maya (1947–2010) regarded himself as a committed mediator between payos (non-Roma) and Roma. He was an exceptional personality in every respect:
He was the first Rom to become a university professor in Spain and the first literary scholar to deal with the representation of Roma in majority literature from an internal perspective. Furthermore, he gained considerable respect as a poet with his first volume of poetry Penar ocono (1973). Three additional collections followed: Poemas indefensos (1974), Charol (1983) and Experiencia y Juicio (1994). The complete literary work has been published in 2013 in the edition Obra poética completa (poesía y teatro).

Mayas approach to amalgamate various influences of minority and majority culture is expressed in his poems, but ever more noticeably in his dramaturgical works. The spectacular flamenco oratorio Camelamos Naquerar (Queremos hablar) (1976) made him one of the most famous contemporary Roma artists in Spain. In Camelamos Naquerar as in Macama Jonda (1983), Sueño Terral and Un gitano de ley (1997), the performative character of identity-constituting elements – such as dance, music and song –manifests itself in various forms of intermediality as well as in combining media, which merge, while congenially creating something new.

The combination of thematically serious theatre and entertaining flamenco – as begun by José Heredia Maya – express his conviction that music is to be regarded as the a priori human action and thus represents the most appropriate lingua franca of interethnic dialogue.


Heredia Maya, José (2013): Obra poética completa (poesía y teatro). Granada: Universidad de Granada.

Eder-Jordan, Beate (1993): Geboren bin ich vor Jahrtausenden … Bilderwelten in der Literatur der Roma und Sinti. Klagenfurt: Drava.

Hancock, Ian F. et al. (Hg.) (1998): The roads of the Roma: a PEN anthology of gypsy writers. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press.

Hertrampf, Marina Ortrud M. (2011): »Camelamos naquerar: Literarische Stimmen spanischer Roma-Autoren«. In: Blandfort, Julia/Hertrampf, Marina Ortrud M. (Hg.): Grenzerfahrungen: Roma-Literaturen in der Romania. Berlin: LIT, pp. 169–188, here 176–179.