Short Introduction


Europäisches Zentrum für Antiziganismusforschung e.V. [European Centre for antiziganism research] (EZAF [EZAF] / Hamburg)

Short Introduction

EZAF is a scientific institution with the aim to systematically investigate antiziganistic attitudes, Antiziganism and actions in those countries where members of the Sinti and Roma people live, using the means of scientific analysis.

While hate against Jews, the persecution and extermination of the Jewish people, old and new anti-Semitism has been experiencing great amounts of public attention and broad scientific analysis for a long time, this does not hold true in any equal measure for the concern towards the Sinti and Roma minority.
antiziganistic prejudices remain to be unsolved and manifestly fixed within wide sections of the population, but also within the media and the social institutions. They are publicly expressed unfiltered.
This apparently is a declaration of enemy status within society, that can be felt mentally as well as physically.

Antiziganism is a strange phenomenon without a truly real basis.
Is it a racism?
Sinti and Roma are by definition not a race (same holds true for the Jews, incidentally).
Is it comparable to anti-Semitism, which is partially motivated by religion?
Roma and Sinti usually are faithful christians - at least in the German-speaking territories.
Can xenophobia be considered a synonym for Antiziganism?
Sinti have been settling in the German-speaking territories since the 15th century. Roma have found a home here only little later. There are not foreigners.

On the basis of a much-spread racism in the middle-classes and the academic world, scientists performed discriminating “investigations” about these people under the signum of "Gyspy research" during the time of National-Socialism, apparently with a clear conscience and “scientific” pretence. Sometimes helped by the police forces in their empirical investigations, their research did the preliminary work for the ensuing, gruesome politics of banishment and annihilation.

Respected scientists produced the intellectual material for an irresponsible policy, which then put these allegations into practice. There are many cases where academically educated culprits (a lot of them on doctoral level) also took active part in this – for example as a referent in the RSHA or even as a commander of the so-called work groups.

Even in the democratically constituted post-war Germany, discrimination and persecution against the Roma and Sinti continued – sometimes led by the same persons and state offices that also took care of the Nazi persecution.

We have learned from these experiences:

The historically reflected and science-philosophically constituted ethical position of the scientists of the EZAF is geared to the basic decision not do to research about the Sinti and Roma, neither for them, but with them.

Within EZAF, Non-Roma as well as Roma scientists cooperatively investigate social problems that come into existence at the intersection points of the Roma community’s living sphere with the social institutions (school, police, justice, administration, media, etc.).

They who do research not about or for people, but with them (the concerned) do not stand outside, above, below or beside their research object, but within it. They perform their research straight from the middle, so to say, themselves being a part of it.
The „object“ of the research is not a set constant with a recognisable truth, but a complex, moving ensemble of the interactions between individuals and material-institutional surroundings. This process does not so much create answers, as questions that lead to new questions.

EZAF also is an educational institution for young women and men from the Sinti and Roma community, who are included in the investigations as experts concerning their individual and collective experiences (in and with school, the administration, in the accounts of family discourses, with the police, their representation in the media), while simultaneously being educated as interviewers to do research within the ethnic minority.
The investigations within the social institutions (school, police, administration, media, etc.) are executed by the EZAF scientists.

The research results are brought into the public discourse through information material, with the intention of influencing the civilizing process within society.

EZAF cooperates with scientific institutions (universal and non-universal) and social organisations Europe-wide, with the aim of initiating projects that can point out the discriminating elements in the attitudes of the institutional majority population towards the Sinti and Roma.

In addition, EZAF supports political initiatives that take active part in sustaining the cultural identity of the Roma and Sinti people on the one hand, while positively accompanying the social integration process on the other.

The central aim of EZAF is to create a general understanding that minorities within a society are not an existential threat, but can very well be a cultural enrichment.