Resistance in Times of Crisis: How Austerity Generates New Strategies and Solidarities Against Roma Residential Segregation in Rome

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 6D P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Gaja MAESTRI, Durham University, United Kingdom
In Rome, several thousand Roma live either in informal settlements or in authorised camps run by the municipality of Rome. The latter are often built in the periphery of the city, and are harshly criticised for constituting a form of ethnic segregation and discrimination. Despite these criticisms, this form of residential segregation still persists. Furthermore, the recent economic recession and austerity politics are putting a strain on Roma integration policies. The increase in social tensions and unrests, the rise of populist parties and of anti-immigration (and anti-Roma) attitudes do not facilitate the inclusion of the Roma minority. What effects are these dynamics having on the marginalisation of the Roma and on the capacity of pro-Roma associations to argue for the development of new integration policies?

Drawing on in-depth interviews with members and activists of associations and movements, as well as with institutional actors, the paper investigates how the economic crisis and austerity politics affect the strategies of pro-Roma NGOs and movements that fight for Roma access to housing in Rome. More precisely, it shows how post-crisis austerity does not only create obstacles to Roma mobilisation and inclusion, but can also become a new resource for action. The paper focuses on two strategies using the crisis as a frame and base for contesting the segregation of the Roma: the first is to highlight the costs of the policies of authorised settlements and evictions, and the second is to mobilise a new form of solidarity based on the housing crisis, mainly through the squatting movement.