Accepted Paper:

Aberrant subjects? Roma migrants as EU citizens and racialised others  


Jan Grill (University of Valle)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on research among Slovak Roma migrants from Slovakia to Great britain, this paper examines the category of Roma migrant in relation to the re-configuration of political space of Europe from historical and ethnographic perspectives.

Paper long abstract:

One of the recent controversies surrounding the idea of 'free movement' and re-bordering of Europe evolved around the issue of Roma migration. The Roma have been figured by EU and nation-state politicians as the Europe's iconic Others in redrawing of political space of Europe. Despite the plurality of Roma and their particular histories within nation-states, they are often categorised by NGO, state, EU institutions as monolithic, 'largest ethnic European minority.' They occupy the ambiguous space of being EU citizens and yet constantly racialised and orientalised as its internal others. Drawing on examples from a long-term ethnographic fieldwork among Slovak Roma migrating between Slovakia and Great Britain, I will explore what kind of subject positions do the Roma migrants occupy in the context of recent economic crisis, state reforms and shifts towards disciplinary workfare and punitive penalisation framed in conjunction with neoliberal forms of governing poverty and minority relations in Slovakia and in European space. While the everyday experiences of most Roma within the space of Slovak nation-state has always been marked by their racialization as non-white, their movement within the enlarged EU have initially allowed them to re-negotiate their subject positions. And yet their positions have been demarcated by racialised classification in relation to other migrants and minority subjects. Animated by historically sedimented differentiations within 'Eastern European migrants,' nation-state projects and European subjectivities, this paper locates the ambiguities surrounding the aberrant figure of Roma within the struggles of re-inscribing the political space alongside the nested hierarchies of whiteness and civilisation.

Panel P021
Crisis, intimacy, and the European subject