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From Victimhood to Citizenship

From Victimhood to Citizenship: The Path of Roma Integration

ANDRÁS BÍRÓ
NICOLAE GHEORGHE
MARTIN KOVATS
EDITOR WILL GUY
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 204
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt5hgzr9
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  • Book Info
    From Victimhood to Citizenship
    Book Description:

    The disappointing results of over two decades of activism in the supposedly more liberal climate of post- Communist democracies prompted three renowned experts to exchange views, sometimes conflicting, about the situation of Roma in Eastern Europe. Their forthright statements stimulated other stakeholders at a workshop, and the distilled text of this discussion constitutes the fourth chapter of the book. While the book offers no easy solutions, the pre-eminence of its contributors and the lively arguments they provoked guarantee that it will be a touchstone for future debate as pro-Roma policies come under threat in Europe's time of crisis.

    eISBN: 978-615-5225-91-8
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. 5-6)
  3. FOREWORD (pp. 7-10)
    Christian Petry

    The three essays we are presenting here for discussion may prove contentious in some readers’ eyes. They trigger a fundamental discussion on the self-image of the Roma activists, and the goals they should be pursuing in the future. They sow seeds of doubt as to whether the Roma movement is on the right track, and they are doing this, moreover, at a time when the EU Commission, the EU member states are tasked with developing action plans for roma inclusion. Nicolae Gheorghe welcomes the development options created by the EU’s initiative. He writes: ‘For the first time in history, roma...

  4. THE PRICE OF ROMA INTEGRATION (pp. 11-40)
    ANDRÁS BÍRÓ

    This essay is offered as a contribution to a dialogue of engaged and like-minded individuals, Roma and non-Roma alike. In particular it concerns the future of the integration of this transnational community into a Globalised world. As I have been entrusted with the far from easy task of kicking off this dialogue, I feel an obligation to state my biases at the outset, with the proviso that the conclusions I may have reached are nothing else but hypotheses based on empirical experience with no claim to be objective or scientific. Therefore they are open to debate, correction, Rejection or in...

  5. CHOICES TO BE MADE AND PRICES TO BE PAID: POTENTIAL ROLES AND CONSEQUENCES IN ROMA ACTIVISM AND POLICY-MAKING (pp. 41-100)
    NICOLAE GHEORGHE

    The time has come to suggest some serious changes in Roma civil society. This paper is written as a response to the compelling need for a language that goes beyond political correctness and challenges the assumptions of liberal human rights discourse. recent polemics over Roma integration are mingled with a reluctance to address ‘touchy’ or ‘risky’ issues – sometimes even ‘taboos’ – by those who strive to defend the rights of Roma or by Roma themselves.² We need to forge a new language, based on a frank and critical revision of previous approaches, to understand the origins of this crisis and move...

  6. INTEGRATION AND THE POLITICISATION OF ROMA IDENTITY (pp. 101-128)
    MARTIN KOVATS

    András Bíró has initiated this debate on the challenges facing ‘Roma’ people in general, and Roma activists in particular in regard to the ‘future integration of this transnational community into a Globalised world’. In this essay, I will respond by Focussing on the relationship between Roma identity and politics, the nature and implications of the weaknesses of Roma as a new political identity.

    There are two main reasons for concentrating on politics. First, though ‘Cigány’, ‘Gypsies’, ‘Gitanos’, etc., have been part of european societies and cultures for centuries, their explicit political meaning and significance have, historically, been very limited. Furthermore,...

  7. WORKSHOP DEBATES
    • THE AIM OF THE WORKSHOP (pp. 129-129)
      ANDRÁS BÍRÓ

      The main purpose of this whole endeavour has been to stimulate dialogue between activists, intellectuals and commentators. Encouraging this dialogue has been in the forefront of the initiators’ minds from the very start. For this reason it was decided to extend the discussion beyond the initial debate between the authors of the three essays through the medium of print as far as possible. Consequently a number of activists and intellectuals were invited to offer a short response to the essays in preparation for fuller discussion at a follow-up workshop. Brief extracts from these comments are included as text boxes accompanying...

    • DEMOS OR ETHNOS (pp. 130-139)

      Kristóf Szombati: In discussing this topic I think we are faced by two dilemmas. The first involves a more practical issue – ethnic politics. The immediate question is: Do we need Roma parties that represent the Roma cause? Or would other means help Roma activists more in their work at local and national level?

      The second dilemma is broader in scope: What is Roma activists’ vision of Roma identity and the future for their people? Two very different proposals are put forward. One is that Roma should strive for inclusive citizenship in the nation states that actually exist, and which, according...

    • TRADITIONAL VERSUS MODERN (pp. 139-150)

      Nicolae Gheorghe: In my text, there’s a specific paragraph onethnoscontrasted withdemosbut I totally agree they have to be linked. Nevertheless these appear as separate in Romania, both methodologically and in the way the Roma movement is evolving. This is due to the specific peculiarities of the Romanian constitution, which proclaims Romania as a national state but offers national minorities reserved parliamentary seats in compensation. Therefore, even if they don’t reach the threshold in elections, Roma – as well as the other eighteen or nineteen national minorities or associations representing them – each have a guaranteed seat in the...

    • GENDER ISSUES (pp. 150-157)

      Ioana Vrabiescu: I’d like to start by offering a simple challenge to everyone here. How can a gender perspective Be incorporated into Nicolae Gheorghe’s account of constructing Roma identity. How precisely can Roma identity be related to women? The most common stereotype of Roma women is of the way they are treated but what is their place in such an explanation? It may sound naïve to speak in this way but I haven’t heard anyone mention this topic. Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of emasculating the Roma, since the masculine principle is at the core of the Roma identity. But...

    • CITIZENSHIP FOR ROMA: COMBATING DISCRIMINATION (pp. 157-164)

      Nicolae Gheorghe: A leitmotif of our two days of debate has been how to move beyond limiting concepts of identity. In earlier discussion these were likened to concentric circles but Elisabetta Vivaldi preferred the metaphor of boxes as better conveying the constraining nature of such identities and posing the question of how to escape their limitations. But the previous focus on ‘Roma activists in Central and eastern Europe’ – not only at our conference but in the discourse over the past twenty years – is one such confining box. I would prefer a wider perspective taking account of Roma activists throughout Europe....

    • RELATIONS WITH THE MAINSTREAM (pp. 164-172)

      Željko Jovanovic: I’d like us to reflect on whatever the word ‘mainstream’ might mean to you when thinking about activism and the mainstream context – whether this context is social, political or economic.

      Martin kovats: In my paper, and whenever I’m writing about the issue of Roma politics, I use the term ‘mainstream’ to mean everything outside the Roma box. I know that by having a monolithic concept of ‘mainstream’ creates problems but I’m trying to establish the dichotomy between the Roma and the rest of the world for my own analytical purposes.

      Željko Jovanoviæ: But if you say ‘Everything outside...

    • INTEGRATION (pp. 172-176)

      Željko Jovanovic: The previous discussion on relations with the mainstream has already raised the issue of majority perceptions of apparently lavishly funded Roma projects producing no discernible benefits in greater Roma integration.

      Nadir Redzepi: And it’s a mystery where the money goes.

      András Bíró: In spite of the best intentions, funding from foreign private donors for Roma issues – including the tens of millions of dollars spent by the open society Institute (OSI) – was handled irresponsibly, naively and unprofessionally. I don’t know what proportion of these funds went to the Roma civil sector, the NGOs, but personally I am extremely critical...

    • EUROPE’S CRISIS: ROMA MIGRATION (pp. 176-191)

      Remus Anghel: There’s a lot of confusion about the burning issue of Roma migration – particularly to Italy and France – which has sparked off heated political rows in recent years. But not a lot of hard information is available. One of the key issues is the criminalisation of Roma, and we need to address this. Also we need to ask questions like: What are the criteria for the comparisons we have to make? Should we deal with Roma migration on its own, or should we understand it in terms of wider structures? Nicolae Gheorghe: If Roma now feature prominently on the...

    • WHAT NOW? TAKING THE PROJECT FURTHER (pp. 191-196)

      András Bíró: In this final session I would like to start by reminding you of the original aims of the project. We started with three core texts to be followed by a conference – all of which was to be included in a published book in the hope that it would be translated into several national languages. The original plan has been modified by the idea that the content – a collection of ideas and debates about Roma issues – will serve as an intellectual and emotional challenge to a wider range of activists in order to strengthen the Roma movement. This was...

    • VALUES, LEADERSHIP, POWER (pp. 197-203)
      ŽELJKO JOVANOVIĆ

      These thoughts are a reflection upon the writings of András Bíró, Nicolae Gheorghe and Martin Kovacs. But they are also a response to views expressed during the two days of debate among participants at the workshop.

      The authors who initiated the interactive creation of this book have put forward insightful and challenging views. Like András Bíró, in his preface to the edited account of the workshop discussions, I do not see the purpose of this book as producing a straightforward ‘answer’ to the multiple and complex problems confronting Roma. Instead the authors intended to open up a further debate or...

  8. APPENDIX: CONTRIBUTORS TO THE DEBATE (pp. 204-204)
  9. Back Matter (pp. 205-205)