These factsheets deal with the Roma, an European nation with Indian roots. The Indian origin and affiliation of the Roma is most obvious linguistically, by the language still spoken by many members of this heterogeneous ethnicity. The Roma consist of various groups, which are labelled with different ethnonymes – self designations as well as external designations: Arlije, Calé, Gurbet, Kaale, Kalderaš, Lovara, Manuš, Sepečides, Sinti, Ursari, etc.; many groups also use the self-designation Roma. Usually all these groups are summarised – sometimes even together with population groups of non Indian origin – by the pejorative denomination “Gypsies”, which – out of descriptive reasons and without negative connotations – is sometimes also used in the factsheets.
As Roma were and still are marginalised in society, Roma history and culture was and still is sidelined in mainstream science. It is known and proven since the eighteenth century that Romani, the language of the Roma, is a New-Indo-Aryan language and that its speakers are of Indian origin. However, public knowledge about the history and culture of this nation, which numerically is the largest minority in Europe, is still marginal or inexistent among ordinary people. On the other hand, national governments and international organisations are trying to overcome segregation, stigmatisation and marginalisation of the Roma and try to fully integrate Roma into society. One of the keys for integration is education of both Roma and non-Roma. An integral part of this educational process is mutual knowledge about the common history and culture of Roma and non-Roma in Europe. The factsheets on Roma are intended to support this process of integration via education.
The factsheets target teachers, pupils, decision makers, experts working with or about Roma and all people interested in Roma history and culture. Although based on the best scientific expertise available, the factsheets do not aim to be an overall scientific and critical description of Roma history and cultur; this opus still has to be written by the appropriate authors. The factsheets aim to provide basic information on Roma for a wider audience, which can be used in all teaching contexts.