Argentina is home to the second-largest Romani community in Latin America after Brazil. The history of Roma in Argentina begins in the sixteenth century with the Spanish conquistadors, but the majority of Roma living in Argentina today are the descendants of two large waves of migration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The largest group – mostly Ludar from Romania and Kalderash from Greece, Moldova, Russia and Hungary – arrived in the nineteenth century. Facing massive economic problems in the mid-twentieth century, large groups of Calé migrated from Spain to Argentina.1
The some 300,000 Roma in Argentina, around 70,000 of whom live in the greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area, repeatedly fall victim to discrimination and racism. One widespread mechanism of protection against possible discrimination is to ‘blend in’ with the majority society and become ‘invisible’, as it were, a phenomenon prevalent in all Latin American countries.
In the 1990s, a rethinking of what constitutes ‘Argentinian’ national identity began, and it is only since then that the Roma population has been seen as a constitutive part of Argentinian identity. During this process, Jorge F. Bernal founded the Asociación Identidad Cultural Romaní de la Argentina (AICRA).2 In 2000 and Jorge Emilio Nedich (see text sample) emerged as Argentina’s first Romani author.
Today, Nedich, a passionate essayist and activist, remains the most prominent and successful novelist, both within the Roma community and within the broader landscape of Argentinian literature. It will take some time before the still unknown literary treasures of Argentinian Roma authors are discovered, for example the poetry of Juan Luís Aguilera,3 who was born in Santa Fe in 1928 and died in Buenos Aires in 2003, leaving behind a body of work that reflects on the relationships between the world and the universe, nature and humans.
Rights held by: Marina Hertrampf (text) — Paul Bowman (translation) | Licensed by: Marina Hertrampf (text) — Paul Bowman (translation) | Licensed under: CC-BY-NC 3.0 Germany | Provided by: RomArchive