The story of the "house for Roma" in a Carpathian Village: ethnographic interpretation
Ewa Nowicka (Collegium Civitas)
Paper short abstract:
The new house for Roma replaced former "Roma settlement". Based on ethnographic data, we try to reconstruct the most important moments of this investment from different points of view: Roma, local authorities, non-Roma neighborhood, Roma leaders, academic experts.
Paper long abstract:
The paper traces social context of the project on improving extreme poor Roma dwelling conditions by Polish authorities. Taking into consideration the specificity of the situation of the Polish Roma minority, which in fact is relatively small, largely culturally diverse and territorially distributed, we undertook the anthropological field study in a mountain village of Bergitka Roma settlement with more than one hundred years of history. The new house for Roma replaced former "Roma settlement" (composed of makeshift houses/cabins) a part of the Carpathian Village populated by highlanders majority. According to policy decision makers former "Roma houses" were not considered appropriate for habitation. At present about 80 Roma live in the multi-dwelling building. The building includes 12 rather small apartments in total. The entire project has been implemented with funds from the Roma integration program by the Ministry of the Interior and Administration.
In the paper we present ethnographic material obtained during field research carried out in 1994-2017. Based on ethnographic data, we try to reconstruct the most important moments of this investment from different points of view: Roma, local authorities, non-Roma neighborhood, Roma leaders, academic experts. In this case, we show how the ambitious housing policy undoubtedly leads to improving the living standards of Roma, however, it does not actually increase the extent of their integration. Very recently the fence panels surrounded "the Roma possession"; both sides interpret the fact in own but rather paradox manner.
Vulnerability and housing policies: anthropological insights across Europe