Gypsies, Roma or Travellers and anthropologists of Europe 
Judith Okely (Oxford UniversityUniversity of Hull)
Pauline Lane (Anglia Ruskin University)
Stevenson Lecture Theatre
Start time:
9 June, 2012 at 16:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

Gypsies, Roma or Travellers are the most stigmatised group of minorities throughout Europe. Anthropologists, other social scientists and practitioners address aspects of topics 1, 2 and 3 such as shelter, planning, education, kinship, ageing, health and welfare within and beyond the UK.

Long Abstract

Gypsies, Roma/Travellers are the most stigmatised group of minorities throughout Europe. Pioneering anthropological studies by Barth (Norway) and Rehfisch (Scotland) illuminated ethnicity for wider contexts. Later anthropological research influenced USA government policy for the recognition of an ethnic group (Sutherland), and in the UK concerning resistance to sedentarisation (Okely).

Anthropologists have challenged stereotypes and assimilation policies. Kaminski, Silverman and Stewart conducted fieldwork in communist Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary. They exposed the problems for Gypsies who were criminalised for petty trading and traditional music making- now encouraged under capitalism. These studies informed NGOs, social workers, educationalists and government policy. Kaminski's research continued in Sweden among Roma refugees, having already problematised notions of leadership. EU officials have sometimes failed to note the complexity of groups which anthropologists would have clarified.

Among other court cases, Okely and her doctoral student, of Traveller descent, recently successfully argued as Expert Witness for the recognition of Scottish Travellers as an ethnic group. Current UK researchers have studied the health records and interrelated cultural factors, especially after enforced settlement. Planning laws have been addressed in relation to human rights.

The CEU, Budapest has supported Roma courses directed by the anthropologist Michael Stewart. Anthropologists taught students of non-Roma and Roma descent. Potential panelists include anthropologists and social scientists, some of Traveller descent: Margaret Greenfields (Buckingham), David Smith (Greenwich), Colin Clark (Strathclyde), Pauline Lane (Anglia), Antonia Bunnin (Sussex NHS) and Marek Jakoubek or Lenka Budilova (West Bohemia University). Topics 1, 2 and 3 address shelter, planning, education, kinship, ageing, health and welfare.

Accepted papers: