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Please note that due to the inability of Eva Sobotka to lecture we had to amend the course schedule. While the syllabus has the original schedule, this page reflects the lectures as delivered.

1. General background

Week 1         Introduction to the course and terminology

This introductory lecture provides a background framework for the course in terms of the key terminology, core issues in the area of Romani studies, and the need for an interdisciplinary approach.

Power Point lecture notes can be downloaded here

Week 2              The Romani community (history, culture, social and political organisation)

This lecture explains the current social predicament of the Romani people from an historical perspective. It takes into consideration  that  during  the centuries  Gypsies  have  formed  an   integroup   ethnic  community   which  has  no parallel among  other  European nations. We define the "intergroup ethnic community" as a set of groups and subgroups and we will trace their evolution  within  south-eastern Europe from the Byzantine Empire until today.     

Power Point lecture notes can be downloaded here

2. Policies towards the Roma

Week 3         Overview of European policy on Roma

International and European human rights instruments have had an important impact on the formulation and implementation of policies towards the Roma. This lecture emphasises on the role of the Roma in policy-making at the international as well as local levels. It pays special attention to international organisations.

Power Point lecture notes can be downloaded here

Week 4            Anti-discrimination and educational policies and issues of racism

Education is an area that well reflects society’s attitudes and behaviour towards marginalized groups. Segregated schools, unbalanced curriculum content, biased teaching materials, teachers’ expectations and attitudes, paternalistic policies and practice, together with public opinion towards minority schooling, all contribute to maintaining the status quo and marginalisation of the Roma.  In this lecture, we will explore the management of change from exclusion and assimilation to multiculturalism and inclusion in educational practice as well as issues of racism (its forms, causes and denial) and definitions of direct and indirect discrimination and victimisation.

Power Point lecture notes can be downloaded here

Week 5                        The impact of European policies on Romani identities

This week we will discuss the process of contemporary transformation of Romani identities within the framework of recent European policies concerning Roma. While the practical effect of various European policies on the material, legal and social-political conditions of Roma has already been widely studied, its impact on the Romani identity formation remains largely neglected. It is, however, a very important issue, since Romani identities represent a very dynamic and complex process, the part of which are the international strategies concerning Roma. Nicolae Gheorghe’s concept of ‘ethnogenesis’, understood in a slightly altered way as a conscious attempt toward achieving for the Roma the accepted status of a politically organized, non-territorial (transnational), ethnic-national group (Gheorghe 1991: 831), will be taken as a starting point. We will examine to what extent the existing European policies facilitate Romani ‘political nationalism’, i.e. the political organization, representation and participation in political life, and to what extent they contribute to the establishment of a  common space in which people of different ethnicity could co-operate in solving their problems, without allowing the differences between them to become the predominant issue which would exclude communication. We will discuss whether in such a space, where ‘culture moves to politics’ (Gheorghe 1991: 842), political homogenization protects cultural heterogeneity or perhaps the process of ‘politicization of ethnogenesis’ leads to the abandonment of ethnic identity as a part of Romani agenda.

In other words, we will focus on whether, within the framework of European policies, Roma can be—to follow Gheorghe once again—‘a political people in the Greek sense of this term’ (Gheorghe 1994: 5), which means the members of a polity, who share political membership, and whose identity is defined in a legal, not ethnic, sense (Habermas 1992). We will then discuss whether indeed some European policies may contradict this ideal by promoting an ethnicity-based politics (Kovats 2001: 103) and whether the ideal itself is viable, taking into account the problem of  legitimation of Romani politics (i.e. whether Roma do exist ‘ethnically’ before they are politically represented) and the problem of Roma aiming at achieving  a transnational status of European nationality (Barany 2002: 269), which may require a pre-political foundation of ‘who are the Roma’.

To this end we will review the list of the components of Romani ethnicity, including ‘descent, ancestry, kinship and marriage patterns, language, social organisation, taboos, political organisation, employments and economic organisation, nomadism, codes of morality and…a particular state of mind’ (Mayall 2004: 220) to see which of them, apart of being intellectually constructed by non-Romani intellectuals, may have now become ‘politically (re)constructed’ by Romani activists to serve as instruments of Romani politics.

The lecturer provided no materials to upload.

2. Country studies

Week 6               Eastern Europe -- case study on former Yugoslavia (Background, Policy  and Practice)

The whole region of ex-Yugoslavia underwent enormous changes at the end of the last century. The effects of these changes on different social and economic levels were numerous and affected various ethnic groups differently. This lecture focuses on the Romani ethnic minority in the region. It starts with a brief account of its situation in the united multiethnic state during socialism and goes on to explain how it was affected by the recent wars following the break-up of the multiethnic state, finishing with an overview of the current situation in individual countries.

Power Point lecture notes can be downloaded here

Week 7             Central Europe -- case study Czech Republic (Background, Policy and Practice)

During his time in office, Vaclav Havel, the former President of the Czech Republic, stated that ‘the treatment of Roma is a litmus test of democracy.’ While under the communism regime the Roma were subjects to assimilation, 1989 brought some hopes for their integration. However, these hopes were quickly dispersed as the Roma were the first to suffer from the negative effects of a nascent market economy (unemployment, exclusion, racism as an expression of freedom of speech, etc).  Only after the emigration of Roma to Canada in 1997 and related international measures and criticism, the Czech government started to acknowledge the problem. This lecture explores in detail the role of different actors, including NGOs, in the process of policy formulation and implementation in the Czech Republic.

Power Point lecture notes can be downloaded here

Week 8                        Field Research

The aim of our Saturday research is to conduct research in a chosen Romani community in the Czech Republic. Since many Roma are often partially illiterate and distrustful, it would be very difficult to conduct typical sociological research based on questionnaires or structured interviews. We will thus use the method of participant observation. We will discuss and analyze the results of the Saturday research during the class in week 8.  

Filed research instructions can be downloaded here

Week 9       Western Europe -- case study UK (Background, Policy and Practice)

The United Kingdom has had one of the most progressive race relation legislation since mid-1970s, however, the situation of the Roma and Gypsies has not started to be satisfactorily addressed until recently. The Roma in Western Europe, traditionally one of the most marginalized and excluded groups that managed to resist assimilation, seem to be more excluded though more confident than in Central Europe.

Power Point lecture notes can be downloaded here

Timeline of history of Romani and Traveller groups in the UK can be downloaded here as a Word document

3. Conclusions

Week 10            Preconditions for Romani Integration: Do Roma have where to integrate?

Considering the deepening social exclusion and marginalization of Roma in Central Europe one can expect that regardless of the ongoing globalization, European integration and improvement of economical situation in Central European countries, the “scissors” between the majority and the Roma will further open. Migration of Roma from Central European countries can be viewed as a result of Roma exclusion from society after 1989, a change that forced the Roma to the bottom of the social structure. The lecture offers an overview of the failure of Romani integration, resulting in emigration. It focuses on three main reasons for Romani emigration:

1. Degradation of the socio-economic status of members of the so-called Romani middle class; obstacles to upward mobility for children of these people; and finally, a decline in the degree of integration into particular local communities that this ‘class’ has already achieved;

2. Attitudes on the part of a certain group within the Romani minority that are characteristic of an ‘underclass’; and

3. Distrust of non-Romani institutions and organizations, which leads to disrespect of the rules and principles that are in place in those institutions and organizations.

Power Point lecture notes can be downloaded here

Week 11            The Relationship between Poverty and Romani Ethnicity in Central and Eastern Europe

In this lecture we will speak about the nature and social determinants of Romani poverty and their relationship to Romani ethnicity. The lecture is based on a cross-national comparison carried out in 2000 in six Central and East European countries with a significant Romani minority and will focus on three of them (Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania). The first part of the lecture presents the recollection of Roma and non-Roma about the impact of the post-1989 changes. The situation of the majority of both groups seems to have deteriorated but decrease is much stronger in case of the Roma. The second part offers an overview of cross-national and inter-ethnic differences in living standards in the year 2000. In a cross-national perspective both groups seems to fare better in Hungary than in the other two „neo-patrimonial” systems, but the difference between the Roma and the non-Roma  is significant everywhere. The third part assesses how various new capitalist countries deal with the challenge of new poverty and under what circumstances- if ever- can one meaningfully apply the concept of the „underclass”.

The lecturer provided no materials to upload.






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