Romani Nostalgia. Memory and Transnational Mobility among Bosnian Roma in Rome

In this presentation I explore nostalgic imageries and memories that Bosnian Roma families address to their land of origin, Bosnia. Such imageries and memories are framed within both the migration to Rome (Italy) and the radical transformations undergone by Yugoslavia (in consequence of the 1990s conflict and, later on, the treaties and neoliberal reforms imposed by the international community). Two interpretative lines thus intertwine: one that addresses nostalgia in a context of diaspora and migration; another that calls in question the nostalgia related to epochal changes – such as the passage from a socialist system to the market economy. The exotic and mystifying memories that the Roma families here described address to Bosnia refer to a place that exists no longer: Tito’s Bosnia, a land which was united, in peace, part of Socialist Yugoslavia, and filled by the networks and existences of the Roma. I will thus reflect on how places that become empty in result of displacement are then outlined, re-shaped and re-filled through memory and nostalgia; and on how “home” may be an emotional rather than a physical place. If nostalgia may be defined as the longing for a lost home, is it possible to talk about nostalgia for Bosnia? And how do these families, who in the arch of several decades got rooted in the Roman peripheries, long for their lost home?

Marco Solimene