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Ms. Renata Berkyová

Randolph and Elizabeth Braham Fellow
“Shaping the memory of the Holocaust of Roma and Sinti under communism in Czechoslovakia”

Professional Background

Renata Berkyová is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Economic and Social History at Charles University in Prague. Her research engages with the wartime and postwar history of Roma and Sinti living in former Czechoslovakia. She focuses on the perception of the Holocaust from the perspective of various actors, the efforts of Roma for the recognition of their racial persecution, and the compensation of survivors and the public commemoration of victims.

Ms. Berkyová is a researcher at the Prague Forum for Romani Histories at the Institute of Contemporary History at the Czech Academy of Sciences, where she conducts her research project Romani Voices for the Recognition of the Genocide (2022-2023), supported by Bader Philanthropies Foundation. In addition to her research, Ms. Berkyová is actively involved in a variety of activities related to Holocaust education and commemoration, including being a part of the working group at the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno which will create an exhibition for the Holocaust Memorial of Roma and Sinti in Bohemia, situated in Lety near Písek. She also collaborates on Holocaust-related activities with the Roma and Sinti Center in Prague and is a member of the editorial team of the Czech Romani studies academic journal. Ms. Berkyová has great interest in the ways Roma are presented publicly and occasionally writes journalistic articles about Romani issues. As part of a three-person team at Romea TV, she made the documentary film “LETY” (2019) about the site of the former concentration camp at Lety near Písek and the pig farm that was built on the site during the communist era and which was fully operational until 2018.

Fellowship Research

Renata Berkyová was awarded the Randolph and Elizabeth Braham Fellowship for her dissertation project, “Shaping the Memory of the Holocaust of Roma and Sinti under Communism in Czechoslovakia.” She utilizes a theoretical framework to examine the conditional and social structures of Romani families and their commemorative expression of suffering. Berkyova’s work will question whether and how the communist discourse shaped the expression of wartime experiences by Romani survivors and how this experience has been transmitted in their families.

During her residency, Ms. Berkyová will examine newspaper articles, meeting reports, ego documents, and testimonies of Roma to identify the social relations between Romani leaders, Romani organizations, and other actors in the political negotiations for the recognition of the Holocaust during the communist period in the Czech part of Czechoslovakia. Ms. Berkyová will also focus on the context of their production (time, circumstances, actors involved, political conditions) and the political and social discourse of the Roma Holocaust that helped define the shaping of individual and collective memory. This scholarship allows her to focus on identifying sources on the Holocaust of Roma and Sinti and its perception by several groups of actors at the local and central level in postwar Czechoslovakia under communism.

Residency Period: January 1–April 31, 2024