Seminar of the Project RONEPP : Pride and Prejudice, Challenging Romaphobia through Political Mobilization

Monday 2 February 2015, 12.30-2.30 pm, Sciences Po ,Salle du Conseil, 13, rue de l’Université, 75007 Paris

Speaker :  Dr. Aidan McGarry, University of Brighton, UK


Abstract for the seminar :

Roma communities are amongst the most persecuted and excluded groups in Europe today. International organizations, national governments and civil society have failed to address the most pressing socio-economic concerns of this group and Roma themselves have been unable to mobilize politically to articulate their needs. I argue that policy interventions which do not address the underlying causes of stigmatization are doomed to fail. Only by understanding the causes of Romaphobia can meaningful solutions be found. Roma are thus excluded from public life and serve as a foil for the interests of the political elite: Roma become constructed as a problem community which does not ‘fit’ the projection of the nation. Due to the heterogeneity of Roma communities across Europe (unique in that they lack any territorial ambitions, do not share a common religion or speak a common language, are geographically dispersed), efforts to mobilize politically have foundered. Moreover, attempts to forge a collective identity are further impeded by the myriad sub-groups and cultures which are housed under the endonym ‘Roma’. Indeed, it is more accurate to conceive of Roma as a political project or phenomenon rather than as a bounded cohesive group.

This seminar explores some of the causes of anti-Roma prejudice and points to recent attempts to challenge the negative ascription of Roma identity through political mobilization. It examines the nascent Roma Pride movement which started in 2011. Whilst protest events have taken place across Europe (in 15 states in 2014) this transnational movement is led by non-Roma and has no clear message: it is both cultural and political. Roma Pride certainly has the potential to challenge stigmatization in the long term as it seeks to challenge prevailing understandings of Romani identity in a non-territorial space. A discussion will centre on research I conducted at the largest Roma pride protest in 2014, in Prague.

Chair :  Tommaso Vitale, Sciences Po, CEE

Discussion : Grégoire Cousin, MSH Paris, Vlad Gross, Sciences Po, CEE, Antoine Jardin, Sciences Po, CEE, Marion Lièvre, Université Paul Valery Montpellier 3

 Registration compulsory: