Fatima El-Tayeb (Yale) 

“‘The Domestic Authority Belongs to the Victims!’ Roma and Sinti Subalternity and Resistance in a Post/colonial, Post/fascist and Post/socialist Europe”

This talk explores the positionality of European Roma and Sinti as an often “forgotten” target of continental racial violence. I argue that rather than being forgotten, these communities continue to be assigned a subaltern role based in the logic of a colonial modernity that continues to determine what is considered speakable and by whom. Focusing on the end of state socialism and the subsequent reordering of Europe and its memory discourses, I argue that this moment offered the chance for a constructive break with European civilization by conceiving of the newly united Europe as a post/colonial as well a post/fascist and post/socialist space. Roma and Sinti are positioned at the intersection of these un(evenly)addressed legacies. Thus, the failed attempt of Roma refugee activists to mobilize a hostile German public by evoking the memory of genocide and the controversies around the monument for the Roma and Sinti murdered during National Socialism allow us to pinpoint how and why this chance was rejected in favor of a continued narrative of European white innocence that fails to treat genocidal violence as structural rather than exceptional. Placing anti-Roma racism at the center rather than the very margins of discourses around Europe and race is not only necessary to combat this particularly violent form of exclusion but also offers deeper insights into related forms of oppression, including anti-Blackness, anti-Semitism, and anti-Indigeneity.


Fatima El-Tayeb is Professor of Ethnicity, Race & Migration and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. Her research interests include Black Europe, comparative diaspora studies, queer of color critique, critical Muslim studies, decolonial theory, transnational feminisms, visual culture studies, race and technology, and critical European studies. She is the author of three books and numerous articles on the interactions of race, gender, sexuality, religion and nation. Here current research projects explore the intersecting legacies of colonialism, fascism, and socialism in Europe and the potential of (queer) people of color alliances in decolonizing the continent.