The first 2023 issue of Journal of Baltic Studies (Vol 54, Issue 1) is now available online. This special issue is entitled “Memory and recognition of the Nazi genocide of Roma in the Baltic context.” An editorial introduction by Volha Bartash and Neringa Latvytė lays out the aim of the issue: “This special issue is, in a certain way, an attempt to break academic silence on the memory of the Baltic Roma communities. Although the scholarship on the memory of the Romani genocide is growing, this trend has largely bypassed the Baltic region. In fact, this is the first attempt to bring together emerging and established scholars whose scholarly paths have crossed with the histories and memories of Baltic Roma.”
Seven articles follow, including country-specific studies, analyses of in-group and out-group memorialization, and examinations of collective memory.
The issue also includes three book reviews and a list of recently published Baltic titles.
Between mneme and anamnesis: on the memory and forgetting of the Roma Holocaust
The article argues that what is usually called ‘Roma memory of the Holocaust’ needs to be differentiated into four types, depending on the combination of two modes (mneme and anamnesis) and two genealogies of memory (bottom-up and top-down). The first type is memory unconsciously encoded in culture; the second emerges due to the unblocking of memories by external factors; the third refers to the construction of memories by the Roma movement; and the fourth accounts for individual management of memory. These types correspond with four different aspects of Roma identity: cultural (substance), social (relation), historical (process), and individual (choice).
Who were the Roma victims of the Nazis? A case study of Estonia
This article documents the mass murder of the Roma community in Nazi-occupied Estonia. Using the statistical data assembled by the police, it paints a collective picture of the minority destroyed.
East Prussian Sinti and/as German expellees: beyond mémoires croisées
Romani victims of Nazi persecution and German expellees developed as distinct memory communities after 1945, but the pre-war integration of Sinti and gadje in East Prussia has left traces in their memory texts. Non-Romani texts and photos contain rare evidence for aspects of Sinti life before the genocide, much of it now available (only) on the internet. Conversely, Sinti were among the Germans who were forced to leave East Prussia after 1944, and awareness of dual trauma and nostalgia for the Heimat they shared with other Germans is apparent in their memory texts. The article explores these points of contact between the two memory communities and their implications for more solidary forms of remembering and re-visioning the region’s multiethnic past.
Mnemonic border-crossings: how Roma communities from the Baltic borderlands remember their shared past
How have Roma communities, separated by state boundaries, remembered and commemorated the Nazi genocide? How have they communicated and mourned for their losses across shifting borders? This article explores the complex relationship between community memory and borders, drawing on my oral history and ethnographic research in the Lithuanian – Belarusian and Belarusian – Latvian border regions. Departing from family histories of Roma before, during, and after the Nazi genocide, my analysis takes several analytical directions by: 1) linking the memory paths with the trajectories of Roma communities; 2) highlighting the ways in which changing border regimes have shaped a Romani commemoration practice; 3) revealing communicative aspects of cross-border memories. My analysis enables me to outline a phenomenon of a cross-border memory community. Such communities are based on family and community networks of Roma, their shared histories, and attitudes toward the past, for instance, nostalgia for the Soviet time. The last section of the article demonstrates how the Soviet nostalgia interweaves with the commemoration of the Nazi genocide.
On the way to visibility: the process of creating a cultural memory of the genocide of the Lithuanian Roma
Agnieška Avin & Anna Pilarczyk-Palaitis
In this article, we investigate the process of transformation of the Lithuanian Roma genocide in the cultural memory over more than twenty years since the restoration of independence. For many years, the Roma genocide has been ‘an invisible’ part of Lithuanian history, contributing to social, cultural, and historical marginalization of the Roma. We trace how the memory of the genocide is being gradually included into the public discourse, and how it is commemorated in the public spaces. We divide transformation of communicative memory into cultural memory into two periods: the ‘initial period’ (1998–2014); and the ‘period of intensification’ (2015–present) that could be characterized by the type and intensity of undertaken activities, visibility of the commemoration efforts, engagement and type of agents involved, and general socio-political context.
The living memory of persecutions: oral histories of the Roma in Latvia and the question of public commemoration
This article looks at the life stories and the obscured past of the Latvian Roma with a focus on narratives of persecution during World War II. These narratives, while preserved in family circles and communicative memory, lack wider attention as the commemoration of victims of genocide is not well developed in Latvia. This research attempts to understand what prevents memories from entering the public sphere. For that, the author turns to Romani memory culture and other social factors that can influence the perpetuation of the collective memory of genocide.
(In)visibility and the (unheard) voice of the Roma in Estonia: the depiction of Roma history and culture in museum exhibitions
The article analyzes the depiction of Roma culture and history, including Roma genocide, in Estonian museums, on the example of three recent permanent exhibitions and a traveling exhibition. Inspired by the new museology principles, I discuss the silences concerning the Roma in memory institutions together with participation possibilities for Roma NGOs. I conclude that the depiction of Roma in permanent exhibitions is influenced by the lack of research (interest) and (knowledge about) materials, which is influenced by the conflict in collective memory about World War II and by the circulation of a false narrative of Roma not being a traditional minority in Estonia.
Book reviews and recent publications
Pagans in the early modern Baltic: sixteenth-century ethnographic accounts of Baltic paganism
edited by Francis Young, Leeds, Arc Humanities Press, 2022, 192 pp., €69.00, ISBN 978-1-64189-437-1
The unknown war: anti-Soviet armed resistance in Lithuania and its legacies
edited by Arūnas Streikus, London/New York, Routledge, 2022, 186 pp., $128.00 (hbk)/$47.00 (ebook), ISBN 978-1-03-218508-8 (hbk), ISBN 978-1-00-325488-1 (ebook)
Party system closure: party alliances, government alternatives, and democracy in Europe
by Fernando Casal Bétroa and Zsolt Enyedi, 2021, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 290 pp., $95.69 (hbk)/$83.13 (ebook), ISBN: 978-0-19-882360-5 (hbk), 978-0-19-255669-1 (ebook)
List of books received and recent publications
About the journal
Journal of Baltic Studies (JBS), the official journal of AABS, is a vital source of scholarship for those engaged in Baltic state and Baltic Sea region studies. JBS is a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary journal published on a quarterly basis that aims at progressing and disseminating knowledge about the political, social, economic, and cultural life – both past and present – of the Baltic states and the Baltic Sea region. JBS seeks high-quality original articles and review of broad scholarly interest that advance knowledge of the Baltic states and Baltic Sea region.
Published quarterly by the AABS, the annual fee for both membership in the Association and a subscription to JBS is $70.00, $35.00 for full-time students, and $35.00 for emeritus members. Members of the Association receive a free personal subscription to the Journal.
JBS welcomes article and book review submissions from AABS members and other scholars. See the Instructions for Authors page for more info.