EUropean ROma MApping
Kalderasha REPORT Action 01 EU-ROMA map(happening) Rome 31 March - 11 April 2008
lan in collaboration with:
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reďŹ‚ects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
The Kalderasha of Rome are Italian citizens of several generations of Hungarian descent. They are a distinct cultural group in the larger group known as Roma, the proper Romane’ name for “gypsy” or, in Italian, “zingaro”, names which are considered offensive.The name Kalderasha is derived from the Romanian word “caldarar” meaning “cauldron maker” (the street and church of the same name in the Jewish ghetto of Rome, via Santa Maria dei Calderari, denotes a place where they and other metalworkers once practiced their trade). Indeed this group, like Kalderasha in general around Europe, continues the tradition of artisanal metalworking.
The Kalderasha in Rome vary from 80 to 200 people at any time. This flux is due to their “forced nomadism,” a term which describes the difficulty that they, and almost all Roma, have of finding a legal location to settle. Almost all Roma in Europe wish to live in conventional housing; nomadism has not been a cultural imperative or value for over a hundred years. However, some combination of poverty, discrimination, and lack of documents usually precludes this, and most Roma end up in legal or illegal settlements (“camps”). The Kalderasha are generally not living in poverty and have all the rights of citizenship, but are different from other Roma cultural groups in that they (or at least many of them) still insist on the possibility of some form of nomadism and believe that it is an essential aspect of Kalderasha cultural identity. The people we met refused to live in a legal camp and had no intention of living in constructed dwellings; they have large and well-equipped campers (roulottes) from which awnings, tents, kitchens, laundries, play spaces, and so on, unfurl rather magically to create an orderly and comfortable living area, partly indoor, partly outdoor, and in between. They are able to fold it all back up and be on the move in short order if necessary, but are also prepared to have a base camp where they stay for years at a time, traveling for brief periods or during the summer, as they did in Rome for almost two decades. In this report we describe the history of their difficulties finding such a base camp in Rome. The Italian government does not recognize the legitimacy of a nomadic way of life in campers, and so they are subject to the same rules and the same penalties as any vehicle parked too long in one spot. The city has not cooperated with their requests for a place to live as a group in their vehicles. This problem is known as “diritto di sosta,” literally, the right to stop. Cultural difference is clearly at issue. A “moving house” and even more a community of moving houses is a very alien concept within mainstream European culture. Some other countries of Europe are grappling with this issue more productively than Italy. We worked and talked with the Kalderasha over a two-week period in April 2008. In these weeks the group splintered and reformed during several forced moves. We were participating in the EU-Roma mapping project (www.eu-roma.net) which is a documentation of Roma living conditions around Europe. In this case, “mapping” came to mean a report on the recent history of the group’s forced nomadism, their relationship with the city government, the media’s presentation of their situation, and their movements in and around the city. We also documented the ways in which they continued to practice their craft under these unstable and peripatetic conditions. “Mapping” was an itinerant activity, done while following them around the city, sometimes on short notice, from one location to another. Even in this brief period of study it became quickly evident that the right to “housing” – however defined -- cannot be separated from cultural, civil, and human rights.
Project Leaders: Alexander Valentino (LAN), Karen Bermann (ISU) Laboratorio Architettura Nomade (Alexander Valentino, Martin Devrient) and the Rome Studio, Department of Architecture, Iowa State University Prof. Karen Bermann, Zach Brown, Blake Fisher, Martina Foss, Dustin Harford, Nick Lindsley, Shea Nelson, Dane Piggott, Steve Sanda, William Stockdale, Jenni Whitney, Emily Wulf (4th year students) and Balo Cizmic, Unione Nazionale ed Internazionale Rom e Sinti in Italia Aerial Images courtesy of Google Earth Text and Graphics by the students of the Rome Studio Text Editing: K. Bermann Final Graphics: A.Valentino Additional photos by A.Valentino
Special thanks to Aldo and Ruby Udorovich
Forced Nomadism Letter from the Comune di Roma
SURVEYS OF SITES: Timeline Map Rome Capannelle Testaccio
11-22 11-12 12 13-18 19-22
PROPELLING THE RACISM Newspaper Letter to “Il Giornale” Television Letter to “RAI TV News” Metalwork
23-30 23-26 27 29 30
Kalderasha in Italy
img 2 - The ex-Mattatoio from Monte Testaccio, former home of the Kalderasha - 2005.
“Forced Nomadism”: The Kalderasha of Rome on the move
In 1986, after years of moving from place to place, from Tor Bella Monaca to Borgata Romanina, the Kalderasha Roma of Rome began looking for a more permanent location. This location was discovered in the rione (neighborhood) of Testaccio at the exMattatoio. Within the rundown walls of this abandoned slaughterhouse complex there existed a cluster of aging buildings and a neglected expanse of paving. The complex, which was built toward the end of the nineteenth century adjacent to the Tiber River, had been left to decay since its closing in the 1970s. A mixed group took up residency there; artists, community activists, a centro sociale, drug users, and weeds. Horse-drawn carriage drivers also kept their horses in stables there, a tradition of long standing. The group peacefully moved into the Campo Boario section of the ex-Mattatoio, and with the quiet cooperation of the comune di Roma, inhabited the nine- acre lot, arranging their campers or roulottes in what would be their semipermanent home for the next several years. It wasn’t until the early nineties that the Kalderasha began to establish a more permanent presence at the site due to its security, urban centrality, and economical benefit. While sharing this location with stables for horse-drawn carriage drivers, as well as a small group of Kurdish people who arrived in 1999, they carried on their daily lives, raising their families and staying actively involved in their traditional craft of metalworking. According to Aldo Udorovich, a member of and spokesperson for the Rome Kalderasha group, a number of their children attended nearby schools in Testaccio, and the group as a whole had friendly relationships with the surrounding community. In 2004, the group made a formal agreement with the city of Rome that would allow them to stay at Campo Boario. This agreement turned out to be a non-binding one, as the city arrived at the ex-Mattatoio in late 2006 ordering them to move out so they could begin the development of a new project, Cittá dell’Altra Economia, or City of the Other Economy, a fair trade market aimed at reenergizing the surrounding community. Noting that the city had originally agreed to let them stay, the Kalderasha fought back. They requested that the city buy or provide new land for them; the city refused, offering only to temporarily rent land to them. After further requests from the Kalderasha – help finding alternate locations, even if temporary, and reparations for their troubles, the city came back with an offer. It proposed to give a sum of 2,000 euro per family, but continued to decline to provide assistance for alternative living arrangements. The community asked the city to use the money to buy them a plot of land for semi-permanent use; the city declined. Aldo Udorovich characterizes the tone of the response of the officials with whom he met as, “It’s okay, you are used to moving.” This refers not only to this group’s history of forced movement before their years at Campo Boario but also suggests a very common misunderstanding of Roma culture. In fact, very few Roma are nomadic by choice today.
Realizing that the city was not going to redress their losses and that they had no choice but to leave, the group set off in their roulottes in search of a new home. They always sought to stop legally, with the permission of the municipality or, in the case of private land, of the owner. But they were not always successful in finding such a space and often stopped in out-of-the way empty areas in order to avoid conflict and confrontation. In the past year and a half, the Kalderasha group, formerly of Campo Boario, have split into smaller groups, as the viable sites around the city do not have enough space to accommodate their entire community. One group, intent on keeping their children in the Testaccio schools, moved just outside the walls of the ex-Mattatoio, on a dead-end street along the Tiber River, and set up camp there. (The street is the Lungotevere, literally, “along the Tiber.”) Another group moved north to the small community of Saxa Rubra and for 10 months joined a preexisting group of their relatives who had been living in this location since the 1990s. The entire group was evicted in January 2008, forcing their move to the parking lot of a BMW dealer in the area of Capannelle, then to the town of Marino, then just outside the Capannelle Horsetrack, and then to a parking lot in Capannelle which we will refer to as “parcheggio”. A few hours after their arrival in the parking lot, they were visited by a number of military and city police aggressively requesting that they them to leave the area due to complaints from neighbors in the community, even though they had permission from the president of the local municipio and from the comune to stay for five days. The president of the municipio arrived on the scene and confirmed that he had indeed agreed to this arrangement, at which point the police departed. This – an unexpected visit from the police lasting several hours – was not an unusual occurrence. At lunchtime on the fifth day, over 100 local residents appeared in the parking lot to advise the Kalderasha that it was time to leave. Seven roulottes moved back to the Lungotevere in Testaccio to join the group that had been living there since the eviction from the Campo Boario. The rest went outside the city to a small community called Guidonia. Until an agreement is made with the city or a private land owner, the continuous movement of the past eighteen months looks like their only option. We (Alex Valentino of LAN and the Iowa State University Rome Studio group) met up with the group in April 2008 just hours before they left the horsetrack at Capannelle and followed them to the Lidl supermarket parking lot. We observed the encounter with police, during which we were forbidden to take photos and had a video camera confiscated and the footage deleted by a police officer. Two members of our group (the ISU student videographer and the professor) also had their passports held at length by the police while they made a variety of phone calls, ostensibly checking on the legality of the documents. We subsequently followed the group that remained in the city and joined others already encamped outside the walls of the Mattatoio. We will call this location by the name of the dead-end street: Lungotevere.
This letter, written by a city official at the time that the Kalderasha were required to move out of the ex-Mattatoio, states that the city government assumes the responsibility of finding one or more places for the Kalderasha group to move to, in the same area or in another area agreeable to all. It also states explicitly that â€œin no way will it be required of the community to move before such a place has been identifiedâ€?.
img 3 - Campo Boario - 2005
img 4 - Aldo Udorovich, Kalderasha spokesperson, tells the story of the Kalderasha in Rome to the students of the Department of Architecture, Iowa State University
Map Rome : SITES A regional map designating the various Roma sites inhabited by the Kalderasha.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Testaccio (Tiber) Saxa Rubra Capannelle (BMW) Palaghiaccio Capannelle (Hippodrome) Capannelle (Parcheggio) Testaccio (Tiber) Guidonia
saxa rubra guidonia
campo boario (outside) campo boario (inside)
capanelle (eurospin) capannelle (racetrack) capanelle (BMW)
Existing Capannelle neighborhood with layout of Kalderasha roulottes. The parking lot is behind a Lidl supermarket and a large Eurospin Laundromat, and between an expressway and a residential apartment neighborhood.
Roulotte facades in Capannelle 1
IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE 19
2 AH 4
4 JH 5 SH
17 15 13 8
19 16 12 18 10 5
8 PH 12 9
10 MH 11 EH 12 SH
14 11 9
14 13 10 6
14 12 11
16 SH 17 RH
18 TB 19 AB 20 PB
22 21 17 19
23 SH 21 21
img 6 - The Kalderasha immediately create comfortable sitting, cooking, and eating areas outside their campers, often with awnings for shade.
img 7 - Aldo and his son Ruby at work on a refinishing project in an improvised workshop at the parking lot. The car battery serves as a source of weak electricity which electrolyzes the baths. The ciborium undergoes a series of baths to strip off the original finish and to refinish it in silver and gold plate.
img 8 - Sonia hangs laundry at the Capannelle parking lot.
img 9 - The interior of a camper
Layout of roulottes along the edge of the Tiber River (Lungotevere).
Layout of existing Testaccio neighborhood with roulottes
Roulottes facades in Testaccio 1
IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE
2 JH 3 GB 4 FB 5 CL
10 PH 18 9
11 MB 12 AH
15 MB 16 BH 17 TH 18 DH 19 SH
14 11 9
21 MH 22 AH 23 TB 9
25 AH 26 PB 27 FB
PROPELLING THE RACISM
The front cover reads: â€œNew shantytown in via Romana Lucrezia. And at Casilino 900 a police raid in advance of evacuation. At Capannelle, a new shantytown in a parking lotâ€?.
One of the biggest propellers of the racism that faces the Roma is the media. On April 3rd 2008, just two days after the Kalderasha moved to their new site, this article was published on the front page of the Cronaca di Roma section of Il Messaggero, a popular right-leaning Italian newspaper.
Safety crisis. The police: “They will leave Sunday” The residents: “They will stay forever”
The media encourages racism against the Roma in a number of ways. One of the most efficient ways is to simply publish incorrect information. For instance, to create a sense of drama and suspicion, the article says “they arrived the other night unexpectedly, one behind the other, with at least 30 campers and roulottes in a line”. We were with this group of Kalderasha the day that they moved, and they arrived at the parcheggio at 1:30 in the afternoon, and the number of roulottes was not more than 22. The article also says that they arrived from Northern Italy, when in actuality this group has been living in Rome for the better part of 20 years, and had only moved from another location in Capannelle about 10 minutes’ drive from the parcheggio. Another method of twisting the story unfavorably is through the placement of photographs. The large image at center quickly attracts attention when first looking at this page, but it does not even pertain to the story of the Kalderasha. Together with the article is a small article about another Roma group living in Casilino 900. It is a famous illegal camp with arguably the worst conditions in Rome, and the image of the children at center is from that camp. By blurring the line of distinction between the two articles through image placement, the falsified story about the Kalderasha is magnified. It is not difficult to see why, then, the general Italian population knows so little about the Roma and why they continue to “live in fear.” They are constantly misled by the media. In response to this article, and in an effort to expose its errors, our project leaders, Karen Bermann and Alex Valentino, sent a letter to the editor of Il Messaggero. Translation follows at page 23
Dear Editor, April 7, 2008 Roma We would like to correct some significant and troubling errors in the story “Capannelle, baraccopoli nel parking lot” that appeared in the Cronaca di Roma section of Il Messaggero on April 3, 2008. We are working in Rome with a group of American students of architecture, studying the situation of the Rom or Roma (“zingari”, “nomadi”) with respect to habitation in and around Rome in collaboration with LAN (Laboratorio Architettura Nomade) and UNIRSI (Unione Nazionale e Internazionale Roma e Sinti in Italia). We were with the group of people in question when they moved into the parking lot from their previous nearby location, and we stayed until early evening. 1. They are not giostrai, but are Kalderash, artisanal metalworkers. 2. They were not arriving from northern Italy. They have been in residence in Rome for the many years. They lived formerly in Testaccio in the ex-Mattatoio as per an agreement with the Comune. They left this location in 2009 with a agreement with the Comune to relocate -- an agreement which the Comune then broke. They have ample documentation of this breach of contract. In this way they became itinerant. They have been and are still searching for a place to live. In the meantime they are forced, by law, to keep moving. 3. They have no intention of staying in that, or any, parking lot, or any other illegal location, since they have no intention of having a confrontation with the forze dell’ordine. 4. They did not arrive at night, but in broad daylight, about 1.30. Police of different divisions (Vigili Urbani and Carabinieri) paid extended visits throughout the afternoon and learned that the group had authorization from the Comune to stay till Sunday. This last error in reporting is the most difficult to understand, since the arrival of the group was fully visible and was observed and reported throughout the day by hundreds of local residents and by various groups of police. These errors, which could so easily have been avoided by a bit of conscientious reporting, are troubling. At best they reveal a lack of interest in the truth about the Roma people and their circumstances, and at worst they perpetrate and foment racist notions of invasion and parasitism. We would like to suggest that these errors could have been easily avoided by crossing into the parking lot and asking politely. We are distressed to find such confused and stereotypical reporting in a major Italian daily newspaper. Perhaps it is time for il Messaggero to review their approach to reporting on the Roma, given that precisely this type of media stereotyping in Italy has been condemned by international organizations such as the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance. Karen Bermann, Iowa State University Alexander Valentino, Laboratorio Architettura Nomade
TELEVISION INTERVIEW Exposure: TELEVISION
On our second visit to the parcheggio site in Capannelle, the group’s spokesperson, Aldo Udorovich, was taken aside for an interview, which was to be aired on TG2 national television later that day. The reporter asked Aldo about the history of this group and their life at Campo Boario. Most of his questions related to the early history of the group; few were directed to their current situation and the series of forced evictions. Our project leader, Alex Valentino of LAN, stepped in and argued with the reporter, explaining the current Kalderasha situation and our research into it. As a result of this conversation, the reporter reluctantly interviewed our professor, Karen Bermann, about our work. Pieces of the interview were aired that afternoon. As expected there was no reference to the current situation of the Kalderasha (who were misidentified as “giostrai,” the operators of rides and games at fairs), and thus effectively the whole story was not told. Avoiding the whole story What: Television Interview with Aldo Udorovich Who: National television station Date: Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 Time: 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM Time to air: 1:30 PM news, same day
img 11 - TV news reporter interviewing Aldo
img 12 - Aldo explaining difficulties with the comune
img 13 - Frustrated Reporter
Attention: Federico Zurzolo Director of RAI TV news service
Dear Director, I am the coordinator of European Roma Mapping, a project on the living conditions of the Roma people in Europe, co-financed by the European Community. On April 3, 2008, I was working near a parking lot close to the Anagnina subway stop, where the day before a group of Kalderasha Roma had come to reside temporarily. The community was made up of 20 mobile dwellings (campers and roulottes) and men, women and children who have lived for years in Rome. For more on their situation, see www.eu-roma.net/dblog/ articolo_r.asp?articolo=138. About one year ago, after 14 years of stable residence inside the Campo Boario area of the ex-Mattatoio, a group of approximately 300 people was forced to move to make room for the City of the Other Economy, a cultural and economic initiative of the Comune di Roma. Part of that group relocated outside the building, near the river, and another part, due to space limitations, moved to meet up with other family members who were already residing in their mobile dwellings in a parking lot in the town of Saxa Rubra, north of Rome. About four months ago this group was also required to leave the parking lot in Saxa Rubra and since then they have not been able to â€œstopâ€? for longer than a few hours or days in the same place. They are always evicted by various branches of the police. They are still waiting for a permanent place where they can stay legally, as was promised to them by Mayor Walter Veltroni when they were required to leave the ex-Mattatoio, where they had been living with the permission of the city. On the local TV news the night of April 3, and on the TG2 news of 1pm the same day, notwithstanding the correct information given by a spokesperson of the community to your journalist, Marco Dezovic, false information was reported. The journalist stated on both TV programs that the group was comprised of giostrai [people who work on the rides in traveling amusement parks. kb] coming from north Italy and appearing from nowhere in the night, people who had not notifed anyone of their intention to move to the parking lot or of their arrival. [In fact they moved their with the permission of the city and the local neighborhood administration. We witnessed an extensive series of phone calls between the Kalderasha spokesperson and representatives of various city and community groups ascertaining the legality of this move and the permission to stay for five days. kb] Here we are speaking of the usual denigrating cliches with respect to the Roma community. This time, though, my organization is in possession of a parallel videotape to yours -- we videotaped the entire interview -- which proves the falseness of the report made on your TV station. Because of this we are calling for the immediate correction of the false information. If this correction is not made we will be forced to take legal steps requesting this correction and requesting also a financial award for damages to the Kalderasha community.
Metalwork: CRAFT AND IMPROVISATION
The Kalderasha Roma are historically known for their proficiency in metalworking. Ruby, a young Kalderasha artisan, showed us his craft and process.
Most of the work done by this group of Kalderasha involves restoration of metal artifacts used during Catholic Church services. These pieces include the candelabras, chalices, and, in this case, the ciborium (vessel used for storage of hosts after consecration). It has become increasingly difficult for Kalderasha to get work, both because of industrialization and discrimination. Ruby’s group, moreover, has been unable to find a place in Rome to stop for long. Anxiety about an unannounced visit from the police to evict the group means that the men are reluctant to leave women and children “at home” while they go elsewhere to work. This has created a uniquely improvised method of working.
In both the Parcheggio and Lungotevere sites, Ruby set up his workspaces in similar ways. The cleaning/electrolysis sites were separated from the polishing/grinding sites. This was probably to prevent contamination between the two processes, but also because of factors like the need of a hook-up to his car battery.
Improvisation SITE WORKSHOP
img 15 - Work Site 1: Parcheggio
img 16 - Work Site 1: Parcheggio
Polishing/Grinding Ruby explains how he will clean these pieces of the ciborium
Cleaning/Electrolysis Ruby readies the acid bath for stripping the metal surface
img 17 - Work Site 2: Lungotevere
img 18 - Work Site 2: Lungotevere
Cleaning/Electrolysis Polishing/Grinding Ruby is changing the brush on the ro- Rubi cleans the ciborium with soap and water before electroplating tary polisher
ELECTROSTRIPPING img 19,20,21,22 - Ruby uses electrolysis in a bath of muratic acid to strip a layer of cheap metal from of a piece of the ciborium. Using his car battery as a source of electricity, the low current combined with the acid corrodes the metal in the bath.
SCRUBBING img 23,34 - With soap and water, Ruby constantly cleans the piece to help neutralize the powerful corrosiveness of the acid.
POLISHING img 25,26,27,28 - Wearing gloves to protect the piece from the oils in his skin, Ruby polishes it down to its underlying brass. He also uses tools to keep the brush from getting too matted, which helps to generate a better finish. Ruby carefully inspects the surface of the piece to make sure all the ripples and scratches are gone.
CLEANING img 29,30 - Ruby uses a special baking soda and water to thoroughly clean the surface of the
piece in preparation for a gold bath.
ELECTROPLATING img 31,32,33 - Once again using the current from his car battery, Ruby submerges the piece
in a bath containing 1-2 grams of gold. The gold bonds to the piece by the process known as electroplating.
THE FINAL PIECE RESTORED img 34 - The ciborium is made of eight separate pieces which were each restored separately
and then reassembled. This process took 3 days (about 22-24 hours) to complete.
photo by Zach Brown
The Kalderasha are evicted from the Lungotevere on June 6
Kalderasha in Italy
img 41 - Carbonia 1958
img 40 - Kalderasha in Campo Boario, Rome 1986
img 42 - Palermo 1966
img 44 - Napoli 1966
img 43 - Cagliari 1966
img 45 - Catania 1961 img 46