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Session Overview
RN31_03a_P: Anti-Gypsyism and Ethnic Identification of Roma
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Ljiljana Radonic, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Location: PC.6.32
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 6.

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The Gypsy card- Changing forms of anti- Roma rhetoric in Hungary

Aniko Félix

Eötvös Lóránd Science University, Hungary

Although the contemporary far right rhetoric in Europe is centralized by anti-immigration, xenophobic discourse cannot be separated from the other forms of hate, like anti-Roma attitudes. In Hungary anti-Roma attitudes were always on a very high level in the society, however, the political discourse was less explicitly anti-Roma on the surface for long. Scholars mostly explain the thematization of the 'Gypsy question' as one of the key factors in the success of the far right party Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary). The innovation of Jobbik was rather the explicit extremely racist language combined with the criminalizational discourse both at the local as well as at the country level. Moreover, although the increasing level of anti-immigration in the political discourse has seemingly displaced the 'Gypsy question', it is still there, however in different forms and with different tones. Once, Roma are used as 'cards' against immigrants and refugees, when right wing parties define them as 'problem we already have', whereby 'we do not need the immigrants'. The presentation will focus on the trajectory of the anti-Roma attitudes in the political discourse from the first period, when a far right party, MIÉP entered the Parliament in 1998. Quantitative and qualitative methods will be used to uncover the complexity of the issue, analyzing party programs and manifestos and also parliamentary speeches of the reviewed period with discourse analysis in the first and network analysis in the latter case. Thereby the whole spectrum of the changing discourse can be revealed as well as the process how Roma would be “smaller” enemy compared to the refugees and used against them in the contemporary political discourse in Hungary.

Ethnic Identification of Roma in Romania

Carmen Buzea

Transilvania University of Brasov, Romania

Roma represent the most vulnerable ethnic minority in Europe, facing prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion. The current paper investigates the internal versus external ethnic identification, based on data collected in Romania, an European country with a large Roma population. An extensive field work has been conducted to identify and present the Roma communities in a county from Central Romania consisting of 58 sites (10 cities and 48 villages). Results showed that: a) external ethnic identification (identification made by others) is three times higher than the official census data and the extreme poverty is the common characteristic of Roma communities; b) according to local experts, main markers to identify Roma refer to geographic proximity, extreme poverty, poor living conditions and enlarged family size. Implications for social inclusion programs at local and European level are discussed along with directions for future research.

“Pretty normal people” – Sinti and Roma between Indifference, Normalization and Exclusion in German educational settings

Holger Knothe, Mirko Broll

Munich University, Germany

Since the European Parliament passed a groundbreaking resolution in 2005 which stated “the Romani Holocaust deserves full recognition, commensurate with the gravity of Nazi crimes designed to physically eliminate the Roma of Europe” (European Parliament, 2005) it became clear that the subject of public recognition of the German genocide against Roma and Sinti resonates not only within the national but also the international public sphere. On the other hand the genocide is still widely unknown and current resentments and prejudices against Sinti and Roma are still going strong within major parts of Germany’s population. The interconnectedness between dealing with the past on a symbolic level on the one hand and current practices, discourses and attitudes towards Sinti and Roma on the other hand is also visible within the ambiguous results of our qualitative interview-based study with German teachers and pupils. Therefore the reconstruction of positioning processes regarding Sinti and Roma indicates their highly vulnerable placements between indifference, normalization and exclusion within our data. Thus the paper’s contribution is twofold: firstly in the production of sociological knowledge regarding communication about racisms and memory politics in educational contexts and secondly in its efforts to identify working strategies against Anti-Gypsyism in order to contribute to anti-racist strategies in the public sphere in general.


Adile Arslan Avar, Fehmi Dogan, Tonguc Akis

İzmir Institute of Technology, Turkey

This study draws on a critical interpretative empirical research on Roma people living in Urla, Turkey. The research was conducted as part of a project to improve the housing and living conditions of Roma who live in a segregated, “illegal” and run-down housing area in Sira neighborhood, Urla.

The segregation, criminalization, and marginalization of Roma is common among the Roma population of Turkey. What makes the Sıra neighborhood Roma unique is they are entrapped by the deepest poverty conditions compared to other Roma people living in Turkey. The poor housing conditions and locals’ stigmatizing representations of them operate together placing them in a tacit circle out of which they cannot escape to overcome their poverty.

Although they are not nomadic nor travelers, it is hard to call their houses as “house”. These are jerrybuilt shelters by various materials collected from the waste. For outsiders, including potential employers and for top officials of the town, the Roma’s housing conditions is seen as a primary indicator of their unwillingness and lack of aptness to be integrated into the local social-economic life. For the Roma, their housing conditions create practical and symbolic “reasons” of their stigmatization and criminalization preventing them from participating into the labor market. At the time of the study, they could make their living only by waste collection, flower selling, drumming during the Ramadan month, and causal agricultural works.

The study highlights that the housing conditions of the Roma people impede in and of itself their integration into the social-economic life by invoking in the discourses of locals unfavorable representations and in the discourses of Roma self-depreciating ones.

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