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Session Overview
RN31_01a_P: Anti-Gypsyism and Representations of Roma
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Holger Knothe, Munich University
Location: PC.6.32
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 6.

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Infrastructure in Roma Settlements in Slovakia: Towards a Typology of Unequal Outcomes of EU Funded Projects

Richard Filcak2, Daniel Skobla1

1Institute for Research on Labor and Family, Slovak Republic; 2Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava

The social exclusion of the Roma population in Slovakia is manifested in many areas of life– from housing, education, access to healthcare and services, to employment and spatial distance. More than half of the Roma live in segregated settlements, which are characterized by a lack of fundamental physical infrastructure. Although a substantial number of infrastructure projects funded from EU funds were implemented to address appalling living conditions of the Roma, the outcomes had been inconclusive. The authors suggest that significant factors affecting the projects' outcomes are power asymmetries, and rooted discriminatory social practices at the local level. Employing P. Bourdieu’s theoretical concepts and building on extensive fieldwork in municipalities of eastern and southern Slovakia, the authors identify three types of EU infrastructure interventions' results. These might serve as ‘ideal types’ to facilitate better understanding of decision-making, and how various social agents shape projects' implementation at the local level. The authors also discuss possibilities of how to mitigate discrepancies between the declared goals of the EU funded projects and their real outcomes.

The perceptions of civil society actors in Ghent about Roma and their integration: ambiguous processes of othering within an inclusive framework

Ama Amitai, Chloë Delcour

University Gent, Belgium

This research focuses on the role of civil society organizations in the integration process of Roma by looking at their perceptions about Roma. We argue that it is important to incorporate a focus on power relations and representations of migrants in integration research because most research only concentrates on the characteristics of the migrants. We studied interviews of the actors in the civil society organizations and their mission statements with a category- and framing analysis. While research mostly focuses on explicit exclusion, the results show that there are excluding mechanisms within seemingly inclusive initiatives. On the one hand, the respondents emphasize the responsibilities of society in the integration process and de-essentialize Roma. The volunteers do this more explicitly than the professional actors. On the other hand all respondents express an excluding discourse where Roma are represented as “the other”, opposed to society as a whole and migrants who have been in Belgium longer. Especially Romanian Roma are represented as the ultimate other. Furthermore the integration of Roma is framed in different ways: through the cultural frame and the poverty frame. Nevertheless Roma are essentialized in both frames by associating them with fixed characteristics, namely their unchangeable culture and a long-lasting poverty condition. A clear vision concerning inclusion and awareness about the subtle exclusion mechanisms is needed in the organizations. The organizations should strive towards equality of Roma based on their differences. Interpreting Roma in a more hybrid way makes it possible to de-essentialize them, yet facilitating political mobilization.

“People of Freedom and Unlimited Movement” – Representations of Roma in Post-Communist Memorial Museums

Ljiljana Radonic

Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria

Remembering crimes committed against Roma in World War II has become part of a process one might call ‘Europeanization of memory’. The analysis of post-communist memorial museums that re(opened) their exhibitions in the last ten years shows that dealing with the Roma is considered part of ‘being European’ in those museums oriented towards ‘western’ musealization standards. The memory of the crimes committed against Roma by Nazis and their collaborators is not internalized as part of national history. ‘They’ are not part of the collective and none of the museums actually has a strategy on how to put Roma in relation to the other groups. They rather reproduce stereotypes and even racist clichés. This will be shown on the cases of the Jasenovac Memorial Museum in Croatia, the Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest and the Museum of Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica. In contrast, the exhibition on the Roma genocide displayed at the Auschwitz memorial was curated by a German institution, has an individualizing approach and lets Sinti and Roma speak for themselves. This forces us to reflect the problem of German institutions acting as role models for dealing with the past and approaching the crimes committed in Nazi conquered Europe.

The hated and the ignored. Attitudes towards Roma people and Jews in the Czech Republic.

Tomáš Čížek, Martin Vávra

Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic

Prejudices against Jews and Gypsies were strong and widespread historically at territory of the contemporary Czechia. Our paper shows what the prejudicies are at present times (after 1989 when rapid social change started). Negative attitudes towards Roma people are still omnipresent. Roma are frequently seen as typical examples of strangeness, aliens in Czech society, despite the fact, that most of Roma people living in Czech Republic has Czech citizenship and declares Czech nationality. The attitudes are only very slightly related to age, education or other important socio-demographic variables but contact with Roma people as friends and personal values make important difference.

Jews as a group are rather ignored then hated by majority of contemporary Czech society. Prejudicial attitudes towards them are much less shared across society compared to other central European countries, but deeper analysis indicate that, at least for important part of society, some kind of ambivalent prejudice still exist. Jews are competent in education or business but egoist according to it. Relation with sociodemographic variables is stronger in case of anti Jew attitudes.

In final part of our presentation we shows the effect of “immigration crisis” (connected to strong anti-muslim sentiments in Czech public discourse) on attitudes towards Roma people and Jews.

Our analysis is based on data from questionnaire-based surveys representative for adult Czech population complemented by analysis of semi-structured interviews.

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