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PhDr. Hana Sebkova
Biographical Details:

I was born on November 29, 1952 in Tanvald (in the Jablonec nad Nisou district), where I finished basic school in 1968 and high school in 1972. From 1973 to 1979 I studied in the field of Czech-French at the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University. During my studies, I completed a year's study at the Faculte des Lettres of Aix-Marseille University in Aix-en-Provence, France, where I concentrated in the study of general and comparative linguistics.

From 1979 to 1983 I worked as a reporter at Czech Broadcasting, and during this time I completed a rigorous procedure at the FFUK (Philsophy Faculty at Charles Univ.), where I received my doctorate.

After 1979 I studied Romani language and culture at the Language School in Prague and from this time I took part in various studies in the field (see the list of publications).

Since 1983, I've made my living as a translator and interpreter, in the beginning as free lance (1983 - 1993), but now I'm self-employed.

Since 1991 I've been teaching the Romani language at the Educational faculty at Charles University in Prague and since 1994 I am an editor of a magazine of Roma studies Romano Dzaniben.

Recently, I've been pursuing field research in Romani dialects in Slovakia and adjacent areas and I'm working on preparing a textbook on Slovakian Romany.

In your opinion, how well informed is the Czech public about the Roma minority?

The Czech public has been getting more and more informed lately about the Roma's situation and about their problems. But a lot of the information is inaccurate, often presented under a "critical" subtext revealing the author's negative attitude towards the Roma minority, his prejudices and bias. There continues to be a lack of positive news, so that the Czech public has the notion that the Roma are the main source of trouble and problems in our society. Even if there are reports about the discrimination against them or racist attacks against them in the mass media, they are often "compensated" in no time by negative reports, which I consider to be inadmissable manipulation by public opinion.

What do you think the attitude of Czech society is towards the Roma community?

Minus some exceptions, very negative, eventually it shows no interest at all.

What is your opinion on the suppression of manifestations of racism in the Czech Republic?

Pretty insufficient, if so many murders and attacks with racist overtones have already been able to happen.

What is your opinion on the position of the Roma in the Czech Republic?

What kind of position can a minority (or a group) have in a society which the majority keeps in a thoroughly negative position, whose members are physically attacked, killed and murdered, which in public places is told to go to Slovakia, to India or to the gas chambers, has a low level of education and bad social standing, the highest unemployment, and so on?

In your opinion, what do Czechs most often hold against the Roma?

That they don't want to work, they're noisy, messy, dirty, they lie, steal and are the biggest cause of crime.

In your opinion, what do Roma most often hold against the Czechs?

That they're arrogant, stuck-up, insensitive and stingy. They aren't willing to listen or help another. They have no sense of humor, they're constantly chasing after something, they're thrifty wherever possible - especially about food. And they're pigs, because they eat hot food ten times and wash themselves where they wash the dishes, or the other way around.

How do you see the future of the Roma in the Czech Republic?

Very pessimsitically, if some kind of more pronounced progress doesn't occur in society, as well as a shift in opinion - especially among the young, who could now finally take notice of the opinions and attitudes towards minorities of their contemporaries in Western Europe, the USA or other places in the world and be inspired by them.

What do you think are the possibilities of mutual coexistence of Czechs and Roma?

The possibilities of real coexistence between various groups and ethnicities always exists - there are countless cases of this in the world. It only needs tolerance, and it's necessary to be educated in this: with non-violent, positive information, stories from multinationality environments where it works, and so on. Real coexistence, however, also presumes more equitable social and education level - and there's still a lot of work to be done here.

Do you think it is necessary to draw the interest of Roma to events throughout society and to their position in society? If yes, how would you go about doing so?

It should be possible for the Roma to take part in society-wide events, town and city self-government, and political life. Their problems won't be solved without them. More space should be devoted to them, their life and culture in all mass media.

Have you considered leaving the Czech Republic at times? If yes, for what reason? If no, why?

No, I've had no reason.

List of Publication

Hubschmannova, M. - Sebkova, H. - Zigova, A.: Bori, in: Occasional publications of the Romani Institute No 4, London 1981; a "Postaveni snachy v tradicni romske komunite", in: Cesky lid 71/2, Praha 1984

Hubschmannova, M. - Sebkova, H. - Zigova, A.: Romsko-cesky a cesko-romsky kapesni slovnik, Statni pedagogicke nakladatelstvi, Praha 1991

Zlnayova, E. - Sebkova, H.: Une minorite meprisee, in: Monde Gitan 79, Paris 1991

Zlnayova, E. - Sebkova, H.: Les Roms de Tchecoslovaquie, in: Les familles Roms d'Europe de l'Est, IDEF, Paris 1991

Sebkova, H. - Zlnayova, E. - Hubschmannova, M.: Fragments tsiganes, Lierre et Coudrier Editeur, Paris 1991

Sebkova, H.: Camarade Tsigane, in: Communications No 55, Seuil, Paris 1992; a "Prejuges, lieux comuns en Tchecoslovaquie", in: Etudes Tsiganes 1, Paris 1993

Hubschmannova, M. - Sebkova, H. - Zigova, A.: Die Rolle des altesten Sonnes in der traditionellen Romfamilie, in: Tsiganologische Studien, Justus-Liebig-Universitat, Giessen 1992

Hubschmannova, M. - Sebkova, H. - Zlnayova, E.: I Rom slovacchi durante la seconda guerrra mondiale, in: Lacio drom 29/5, Roma 1993

Sebkova, H.: Romska humorna vypraveni, in: Romano dzaniben I/2, Praha 1994

Sebkova, H.: Jazykova situace Romu a jeji vyvoj, Obcanske sdruzeni MENT, Praha 1995

Sebkova, H.: Uloha nejstarsiho syna v tradicni romske rodine, in: Romano dzaniben, 1-2/1996

Sebkova, H. - Zlnayova, E.: Nastin mluvnice slovenske romstiny (v tisku)

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