Whose Holocaust? The Struggle for Romany Inclusion in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

By Amy Sodaro.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In recent years, the Roma have begun to speak out about their suffering under the Third Reich, demanding recognition, commemoration, and compensation. Much of the struggle for Romany inclusion within the greater Holocaust narrative has played out in public spaces, especially museums, monuments, and memorials. This paper focuses on the debates surrounding the inclusion of Romany victims in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), one of the preeminent Holocaust museums in the world and one which, in many ways, serves as the American authority on the historical interpretation and memory of the Holocaust. From its very conception the USHMM has been plagued by questions of the uniqueness of the Holocaust and the visibility of “other” victims in its exhibitions; as a national museum it has strived to recognize a plurality of narratives, while protecting the uniqueness of the Jewish experience. However, the struggle for public recognition of victimization often has deeper implications: many Roma see
representation in the greater Holocaust narrative as recognition not only of their suffering, but also recognition – and legitimation – of the Romany people and culture, turning the USHMM into a public battleground for struggles about identity and inclusion, victimization and legitimation.

Keywords: Holocaust, Memory, Roma, Museums, Historical Representation, Identity

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.27-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 576.356KB).

Amy Sodaro

PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, The New School for Social Research, New York, NY, USA

Amy Sodaro is a PhD candidate in sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Her dissertation is on memorial museums of genocide and atrocity; it examines how and why societies around the world increasingly use museums as a mechanism for coming to terms with past conflict, violence, and atrocity.

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