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RomArchive Music Section: Frequently Asked Questions

Question:

Who decides what is included in the exhibits?

Answer:

A team led by Romani, Sinti and Cale (Gitanos) experts chooses and/or approves all RomArchive content. The primary Music curator is Petra Gelbart, a Romani musicologist, educator, activist and musician. Contributions to the Music Section have also been made by both Romani and non-Romani authors, including co-curators Siv Lie and Carol Silverman.

Question:

Why is my favourite music or artist not included?

Answer

Music and dance are readily associated with Romani people, and there are countless examples of Romani songs on the internet. The first phase of RomArchive’s Music Section has prioritised materials and narratives that are not otherwise easily accessible to the public. The curators aim to present intriguing examples of Romani creativity as well as Romani influence on mainstream cultures, while questioning certain long-held assumptions.

Question:

What is the purpose of RomArchive’s Music Section?

Answer:

A highly curated yet multi-vocal collection has the power to provide readers with a complex view of Romani people, in contrast to the way Romani musicians are often reduced to stereotypes. The curators aim to present intriguing examples of Romani creativity as well as Romani influence on mainstream cultures, while questioning certain long-held assumptions. The Music Section’s exhibits privilege Romani voices and Romani opinions.

Question:

How can I get myself or another artist featured in the Music Section?

Answer:

Music Section curators always welcome suggestions from the public – please contact us at irm.nyu@gmail.com. If you are proposing the inclusion of a well-known musician or band, please be aware that we may have special constraints related to legal rights. We are most interested in composers and performers who demonstrate extraordinary artistic quality, originality, and/or the potential to play a central role in a thought-provoking exhibit. Since RomArchive is a Romani-led project, preference is given to artists with multiple nominations by Roma, Sinti, Cale or other Romani individuals and organisations.

Question:

How are ‘Romani musicians’ defined, and why are they not just called ‘Gypsies’?

Answer:

The world’s estimated 12–20 million Romani people have not only highly diverse cultures, but also differing opinions on what to call themselves. Many Roma and Sinti consider ‘Gypsy’ to be pejorative or misleading because it stems from the false idea that Roma originated in Egypt. The word ‘Gypsy’ – or even more inaccurately, ‘gypsy’ – conjures up popular ideas of a lawless or carefree existence that have nothing in common with actual Romani cultures. For decades now, only the members of certain small subgroups have led a ‘Gypsy nomadic lifestyle’, while most Roma and Cale (Gitanos) have been settled for centuries. ‘Gypsy’, then, is a problematic term, as are ‘Cigan’, ‘Zigeuner’ and other exonyms, even if there are many Romani people who use these words to refer to themselves.

Since racial categories are socially constructed, there is no universal agreement on who is or is not Romani or ‘Gypsy’, although Romani ethnicity and languages are generally understood to have South Asian origins. Owing to the prevalence of discrimination, some Romani musicians do not publicly self-identify as Roma or ‘Gypsies’. Conversely, at times performers with no significant connection to a Romani heritage claim to be ‘Gypsies’. RomArchive features artists who consistently identify as Roma, Sinti or as other ‘Gypsies’ and who are also perceived as such by other Romani people.

See also Romani Music intro.

Question:

What can I expect from the RomArchive Music Section in the future?

Answer:

In addition to expanding the current Archive holdings and exhibits, the Music Section aims to recruit an increasing number of Romani authors to represent a variety of musical expressions from their own point of view.

Please contact the curator for more information by contacting the RomArchive host