Realizing Roma Rights: Press Release

April 1, 2017


By Susan Lloyd McGarry and Krista Oehlke

Today Harvard FXB research director Jacqueline Bhabha and instructor and director of the Roma Program Margareta Matache announce the release ofRealizing Roma Rights, a volume they have edited with Andrzej Mirga, Chair of the Roma Education Fund. The book, published by University of Pennsylvania Press, investigates anti-Roma racism and documents a growing Roma-led political movement engaged in building a more inclusive and just Europe.

As Professor Bhabha says, “the vast majority of Americans, including otherwise well informed people, know little if anything about the estimated 14 million Roma worldwide despite a long-standing (if small) Roma presence” in the United States.  And yet as Realizing Roma Rights makes clear there are many parallels between African Americans in the United States and the Roma in Europe: they both have struggled to overcome a legacy of slavery and its accompanying stereotypes (the Roma nineteenth-century experience recently made vivid in the award-winning film Aferim!). The American civil rights movement, as well as scholarship on critical race theory and intersectionality, has thus informed this generation of Roma advocates and scholars.

The book offers American readers insight into the enduring discrimination against the Roma in Europe along with the rise of right-wing nationalist movements there. Realizing Roma Rights brings to the forefront voices of leading and emerging Romani scholars, from established human rights experts to policy and advocacy leaders with deep experience. Margareta Matache hopes that the book will “act as a powerful tool for those wishing to learn more about one of the most egregious human rights challenges in the heart of Europe, and about the range of imaginative strategies being advanced to redress this situation.” As Harvard University Professor Amartya Sen has written, “this splendid collection of essays brings out the richness of the Roma story—what the world owes to this massively disadvantaged group, and no less importantly, what the world has to learn from the global culture of this locally defiant community spread across the world.”

To celebrate the book, Harvard FXB will officially launch Realizing Roma Rights at 11:45 am on April 10 in the Thomson Room of Harvard’s Barker Center, with remarks from Professor Bhabha, Andrzej Mirga, and Erika Schlager, contributor to the volume. Books will be available for sale and signing.

The book launch is part of Harvard FXB’s honoring of International Roma Day through a one-woman play performed by Alina Serban followed by a conference, Culture Beyond Borders: The Roma Contribution. These events are open to the public, with informal registration on Facebook (

For additional information, please contact Susan Lloyd McGarry, Senior Writer at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, at or (617) 432-6811 or Margareta Matache, director of the FXB Roma Program, at or (617) 432-7536.

High-resolution files are available for both of the illustrations; review copies are available from University of Pennsylvania Press.