The Romani Elders

The Romani Elders

Ágnes Daróczi(HU)

Intellectual and activist

Life story

Ágnes Daróczi (1954 - ) was born in Berettyóújfalu, a God-forsaken village in Hungary close to the Romanian boarder. As the family rumor says, her grandfather learned to write and read when he was drafted as a soldier under the WW I. In school she found her „hobby”, that is prose and verse saying, which has been accompanying her throughout her life as well as helping her through hard periods.
In 1972 she got the fourth place in one of the prose and verse saying competitions and in next year finishing her high school education in she managed to start university education at the Faculty of Humanities at Eötvös Lóránd University. She got her first job at the Hungarian Institute for Culture and Art (at that time the name of the institute was Public Culture Institute, Népművelési Intézet) which institution approached the subject matter from a qualitative perspective, then, in 1992 she went to work for the Hungarian Television until 2000.
„At the end of the 1970s, when the Roma were not a recognised minority and did not have institutions or organisations of their own yet, it was very difficult to organise a fine arts exhibition. Gifted as the Romani painters and wood-carvers concerned were, they were little known. We sought to attract to them not less than national, in fact, international attention. The authorities did not like what we did and called it „nationalist scheming”. We wished to change the way the public saw the Roma, to free them from old stigmas. Friends advised us to entitle the show “Roma Naive Painters”. But the word “naive” would have been misleading, we thought, as some of the artists concerned were not naive at all and those who were, differed from the traditional peasant artists. That is why we settled for the term: „self-taught” because that was true of them all. Those Romany artists were so committed and persevering that neither poverty, nor their unhelpful families could dissuade them from carrying on.” She began organizing the first Romani fine arts exhibition in 1979. In May 1979, and ten years later, she and her husband, János Bársony, entitled to realize the First (and Second) “National Fine Arts Exhibition of Self-Taught Romani Artists”. The Third National Romany Fine Arts Exhibition is a natural continuation of the first two. Daróczi’s mayor field of research is the Roma Holocaust and she is committed to establish its narrative that would provide a legitimate platform upon which Roma could gain voice and demand a legitimate position in European history. She works as an activist. She reflects upon current issues concerning racism, the presence of extreme right wing, poverty.


„State of justice ceases to exist at the first house of disadvantaged settlements, of poor regions.”

„I have to make the decision whether I remain a scholar or organize wooden fuel aids during winter. Up until now thirty people were frozen to death, and in Borsod county’s small villages one could easily get into prison for stealing some wood. How could bear it surrounded by books?”

„Providing dignity for our children – that could be the only sensible message of a coursebook, whereas regarding its subject matter, factual knowledge. Not only what the cronicles preserved and can easily be edited, but also what we maintained in our culture.”

„Establishing a proper cultural institution for Roma would unburden the Hungarian budget without harming the minority’s right for self-representation and labour and housing – those are our priorities as well. We could also say: the offspring has grown up and demands voice in shaping his/her life.”

„We put together the two words—Roma and universitas—because our aim is to create the new Romani intelligentsia, a small mass of well educated persons who never forget where they come from, never forget the community they belong to and for whose benefit they have, of course, to work.”

„I would like to ask you not to treat us as special. Be good patriots and loyal democrats. Give us an insitution, money and the opportunity because we could fight against the ever-growing extreme right-wing and the more and more racist morale. Indeed, with the power of culture.”

Books, Articles, Statements

Miklós Jancsó - Ágnes Daróczi (rip). 1994. Megöltétek ártatlan családom [You killed my innocent family]. film
Gábor Péter-Ágnes Daróczi. 1994. Nem szokta a cigány… [The Gypsy is not used to....]. film, MTV
Miklós Jancsó – Ágnes Daróczi (rip). 1995. Lajoskomárom. film
János, Bársony – Daróczi Ágnes (eds). 2004. Pharrajimos. Romák Sorsa a Holocaust Idején. [Pharrajimos. The Fate of Roma during Holocaust]. Budapest, L’Harmattan Kiadó.
Gábor Péter - János Bársony - Ágnes Daróczi. 2005. Historia Romani – Roma történelem. [Historia Romani – Roma history] educational film, Romédia Foundation publication.
János, Bársony – Daróczi Ágnes (eds). 2005. „Vrana mámi mesél” – népismeret az általános iskolák 1-4 osztálya számára. [“Vrana mama is telling a story – folk studies for elementary school children] Budapest, Sulinova Kiadó.
János Bársony – Ágnes Daróczi (eds). 2008. Pharrajimos, the fate of Roma during Holocaust. New York, London, Brussels, Idebate.

Press about the Elder

Managed by   View our videos on   View our Facebook page   Newsletter
© 2012 European Roma Cultural Foundation | Frankel Leó út 5. III. 23. H-1027 Budapest | | | design solid | host liw