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Dr. Volha Bartash

Dr. Volha Bartash

Postdoctoral Researcher in Anthropology


Universität Regensburg
Graduate School for East and Souteast European Studies
Landshuter Straße 4
93047 Regensburg

Research Project

Along with my book project on the memory of Nazi genocide of Roma in Belarus and Lithuania, I have started developing a new research initiative. My new project is tentatively titled Holocaust memory activism in the Baltics. It brings into focus memory activists, the people who actively work to break the silence, advocate for abandoned sites and challenge official narratives. What are their background, motivation and aspirations? What challenges do they face and what makes for a successful commemoration initiative?

To answer these questions, I will survey grassroots commemoration and documentation efforts on the Holocaust and Nazi genocide of Roma in the Baltic States. Although my project focuses on current socio-political processes, I also look at the survivor activism in the Soviet time. Thus my study addresses not only memory activism but `memory of activism´ and `memory in activism´.

At a theoretical level, I intend to gain a nuanced understanding of the phenomenon of memory activism and its role in the process of memory making.

Curriculum Vitae

I am ethnologist and historian of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, having published widely on the history and culture of Roma communities and their memory of the Nazi genocide and World War II. My current research interests include the relationship of history and memory, memory and borders, grassroots activism and the state. Methodologically, my research seeks to integrate archival history, oral history and ethnography. I am committed to the practice of writing history “from below” and reconstructing the experiences of vulnerable and marginalized populations.

Before joining the Graduate School, I was Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (Research project ROMPAST https://cordis.europa.eu/article/id/435322-legacy-of-the-nazi-genocide-of-roma-in-belarus-and-lithuania ). My research received support from the European Commission, Swedish Institute and Kone Foundation. I held fellowships at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Vienna Wiesenthal Institute and Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena.



Survival as a daily routine: the Nazi genocide in family memories of Roma from the Belarusian-Lithuanian border region, in preparation.

Volha Bartash, Tomasz Kamusella and Viktor Shapoval (eds.), Tears of blood: A poet’s witness account of the Nazi genocide of Roma, in preparation.

Special issues

(with Neringa Latvyte) “Memory and recognition of the Nazi genocide of Roma in the Baltic context,” Journal of Baltic Studies, Vol. 54 (1) 2023, in preparation.

Articles and book chapters

“Mnemonic border crossings: How Roma from the Baltic borderlands remember their shared past,” Journal of Baltic Studies, Vol. 54 (1) 2023, in preparation.

“Memory communities and the transformation of the burial site of Roma genocide victims in Navasyady, Belarus,” History & Memory, Vol. 35 (2) 2023, accepted, forthcoming.

“The joy and burden of living: Roma communities in the western borderlands of post-war Soviet Union,” In: Anna Wylegała, Sabine Rutar and Małgorzata Łukianow (eds.) No neighbours’ land: Post-war Europe in a new comparative perspective, Palgrave Macmillan, accepted, forthcoming 2022.

“Resistance or survival? Roma in the Soviet partisan units: Memories and archival evidence,” In: Celia Donert and Eve Rosenhaft (eds.) The legacies of the Romani genocide in Europe since 1945, Routledge, 2021, 107-124.

“The Romani family before and during the Holocaust – How much do we know? An ethnographic-historical study in the Belarusian-Lithuanian border region,” In: Eliyana R. Adler and Katerina Capková (eds.) Jewish and Romani families in the Holocaust and its aftermath, Rudgers University Press, 2020, 17-41.

“Towards ethnography of archival silence: Romani memory of Nazi genocide confronts the Soviet records,” La Ricerca Folklorica (Special issue “Archive and Ethnography: The Case of Europe´s Sinti and Roma, 19th-21st cent.”), Vol. 2 (74) 2019, 13-28. https://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/handle/document/71929  

“Family memories of Roma as sources for Holocaust studies: Insights from the Belarusian-Lithuanian border region,” S:I.M.O.N. – Shoah: Intervention. Methods, Documentation, Vol. 4 (2) 2017, 4-17. http://simon-previous-issues.vwi.ac.at/images/Documents/Articles/2017-2/2017-2_ART_Bartash/ART_Bartash01.pdf

“Let the victims speak. Memories of Belarusian Roma as sources for genocide studies,” In: Alexander Friedman and Rainer Hudemann (Hrsg.) Diskriminiert – vernichtet – vergessen. Behinderte in der Sowjetunion, unter nationalsozialistischer Besatzung und im Ostblock 1917–1991, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2016, 499-507.

“The sedentarisation of Roma in the Soviet Union after 1956: A case study from the former Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic,” Romani Studies 5, Vol. 25 (1) 2015, 23-51.

“Von welchen Roma stammst du?” Antworten auf die Frage nach der Identität belarussischer Roma,” In: Thomas M. Bohn, Rayk Einax und Julian Mühlbauer (Hrsg.) Bunte Flecken in Weißrussland. Erinnerungsorte zwischen Polnisch-Litauischer Union und Russisch-Sowjetischem Imperium. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2013, 189-199.

Review articles

“Marian devotion among the Roma in Slovakia: a post-modern religious response to marginality. By Tatiana Zachar Podolinskà,” Hiperboreea, Vol. 9 (1) 2022, 152-155.

“Pioneers and partisans: An oral history of Nazi genocide in Belorussia. By Anika Walke,” Oral History Review, No. 12, 2016, 133-137.