Alina Asavei

This paper addresses theater’s ability to tackle past (and present) injustices by focusing on the artistic-political practices displayed by the professional actresses of Roma descent from the independent theater the Giuvlipen in Bucharest (Romania). The founders of this Romani women-centered theater also have “invented” the word “Giuvlipen” (“feminism” in the Romani language) because there had previously been no word to connote both the forms of oppression and the conscience raising politics performed by Romani women. “Giuvlipen” not only refers to Romani women’s multilayered oppression but it is also meant to act as a new language that had to be invented to portray the experiences of subjugation and emancipation that had previously no name. Thus, “Giuvlipen” does not only connote Romani women’s oppression but also their liberation. This is a liberation from centuries-old prejudices as well as from the non-Roma feminist commitment to maintaining a certain status quo and epistemic authority, whereby the hegemonic argument holds that “all women as essentially alike (in oppression or in resistance).” The Giuvlipen Theater is a reaction to an epistemic injustice that always overlaps with social, economic and political marginalization. Additionally, it targets the long lasting effects on Romani women’s lives. In doing so, they draw attention on what it means to be epistemically wronged. Thus, giving a name to injustice and entrenching it in a political vocabulary is of utmost importance.

Maria-Alina Asavei is a lecturer in Russian and East European Department (Institute of International Studies, Charles University in Prague) and independent curator of contemporary art. She curated several international exhibitions of contemporary art and material culture. Asavei is a former honorary research fellow at City University of New York (CUNY) and at the American Research Center in Sofia (ARCS)