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Contemporary Romany Autobiography as Performance

This article discusses new forms of self-representation that have recently emerged among Austrian and German Romany or "Gypsy" writers. Their texts emphasize the performative nature of memory, culture, and writing. These memory performances suggest interesting forms of Vergegenwärtigung that display the complex relationships between past and present, and between the majority and minority groups. Autobiographical writings and other artistic expressions by Ceija Stojka and Otto Rosenberg represent test cases of what it means to be "Austrian" or "German" today, especially after 1989. Writing and singing perform important acts of memory that continue the Romany tradition yet are also meant to disrupt the repression of Roma. These forms of autobiography can be viewed as critical auto-performances that create and undo themselves at the same time. Writing and performing from an insider and outsider perspective, Stojka and Rosenberg urge us to rethink our notions of cultural and national identity.

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