The representation of the Roma has been essential in the construction of Spanish identity. Contrary to what happens with other minorities, where invisibilisation prevails, the Spanish Roma have been victims of a proliferation of images so powerful that they are usually accepted as representative of an entire people. proliferation of images so powerful that they are usually accepted as representative of an entire people. The weight of these stereotypes, spread since the publication of Cervantes’ La gitanilla, has been such that Charnon-Deutsch (2004) has called it a ‘European obsession’. Images have fluctuated between exotic caricatures and the most damaging generalisations about the Roma and their culture. And yet, despite their supposed “otherness”, the representation of the Roma has shaped the image of Spain by portraying it as an orientalised country.
In recent decades, the access of Roma to filmmaking and the production of their own creations from a place of situated knowledge makes it an urgent task to examine the modes of representation and self-representation chosen. This is especially demanded in a context where, on the one hand, the socio-economic progress of the Roma has stagnated, while on the other hand the Roma have achieved certain, specific historical demands – such as the acceptance of anti-Gypsyism as a hate crime, and the teaching of Roma history in compulsory education. In addition, the European Union has promoted transnational initiatives such as the Decade of Roma Inclusion (2005-2015) and institutions such as ERIAC, supported by the Council of Europe and the Open Society Foundations, have combatted prejudice through culture and the media.