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10/04/2014

Walling Roma in

The "Roma wall" Wikipedia page accounts for the apparently growing governance practice of walling Romani households in (or out). The page presents cases in Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia. Two issues strike me here: the first is that apparently between 1999 and 2011 no wall was constructed; the second is that this kind of segregation seems to take place only in Eastern Europe.

Giovanni Picker Giovanni Picker Picker Giovanni GiovanniPicker
One of the "walls". Kosice, Slovakia, 2013
The first issue is revealing of the trajectories of governance ideologies and practices, as well as of the recent and current economic situation in Europe. It would be too long to discuss this issue here; probably a journal article would be a better place. Any volunteering co-author? The second issue reveals I think a kind of growing conventional wisdom in the 'new Europe' (the 'East') concerning acceptable and 'clean' forms of (racial) domination. It may also mirror a renewed tendency in governing practices of walling Roma in, that started in the 1980s with Italian nomad camps, drawing on previous policy experiences of 'halting sites' in the UK and the Netherlands. At the same time, walling Western European stigmatized 'immigrant neighbourhoods' in, like the Via Anelli wall in Padua, might be a morphologically more similar example. In any case, enacting physical and symbolic exclusion with such a tremendous visual impact looks somehow more effective in perpetuating territorial stigmatization than risking hate speech and other more conventional violations.

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