Author:Francesca Mosca (Australian National University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyses how the Italian state, and non-Roma Italians, frame nomadism, and the responses this elicits from the inhabitants of ‘nomad camps’, who live lives of forced sedentarisation and struggle with the consequences of the assumption of nomad asociality and amorality.
Paper long abstract:
The stigmatisation of nomadism has a long history in Italy, which predates Giuseppe Mazzini's infamous definition of people without a country as "the bastards of humanity". To this day, 'nomads' is the everyday and legislative name that non-Roma Italians use to refer to Romani people. The mass media, policy, and everyday understandings of Roma/Gypsies suggest that they are untethered from the land on which they reside, and that they do not belong because their culture entails uncontrollable mobility. One of the important consequences of the stigma of nomadism is the institutionalisation of 'nomad camps', where approximately a third of Italy's Roma are made to reside. Here, disconnected from the social fabric of the city, apart from day-to-day interaction with Italians, people live lives of forced emplacement, which contrast sharply with the popular image of the carefree wanderers the nomad label conjures. One of the implications of nomadism is that it is amoral, because morality is implicitly tied to emplacement in Italian ways of framing discourses of belonging. This paper analyses some of the ways in which the Italian state, and non-Roma Italians, frame nomadism, and the responses this elicits from the inhabitants of the 'nomad camps'.