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Accepted paper:

Accessing Cash(lessness): Cash-dependency, Digital Money and Debt Relations Among Homeless Roma in Denmark

Author:

Camilla Ida Ravnbol (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the de-facto access that urban poor Roma have to digital economies in Europe. It explores how poor Roma families engage with digital financial initiatives at home in Romania, and when they travel to work in the informal economy in Denmark.

Paper long abstract:

This paper contributes towards contemporary ethnographies concerning the access of urban poor migrants to digital economies in Europe. More specifically, it explores how poor Roma families engage with digital financial initiatives at home in Romania, and when they travel to work in the informal economy in Denmark. It focuses on the empirical case of three brothers in a Roma family, primarily as a pathway to discuss critical financial issues related to their livelihood. The paper shows how the brothers are caught in spirals of debt to informal usurers in their community, and analyses the possibilities and limitations of their integration into the national banking system in Romania. Thereafter, it sheds light on how the three brothers travel with their spouses to work with scrap scavenging in Denmark, including searching for refundable beverage containers. In this regard, the summer festivals in Denmark constitute their main income stream. The paper analyses how the brothers experience the recent financial turn towards making the refund system at the festivals cashless, and the strategies that the brothers employ in order to access digital disbursements from the refund deposit. On this basis, the paper ends by discussing the de-facto access that urban poor Roma have to digital economies in Europe.

panel P057
Digital encounters, cashless cultures: Ethnographic perspectives on the impact of digital finance on economic communities