Failure of Roma Inclusion As a Symptom: Nationalism, Balkanism and Neoliberalism in Bulgarian Context

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:45
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Bozhin TRAYKOV, Univesrsity of Alberta, Canada
The paper attempts to demonstrate how the failure of Roma inclusion should be analyzed as the symptom of late capitalism in the EU. Slavoj Zizek defines the symptom as the element of exclusion of the universal, which if applied to the universal principle would disintegrate it. One should situate the plight of Romani people inside Bulgaria in the context of Western European representation and perception of the region; the imagining and invention of Eastern Europe and construction of the Balkans as an Other (Todorova, 2009, Wolff 1994, Bakic-Hayden, 1995, Goldsworthy, 1998). Renata Salecl's and Zizek’s Lacanian analysis of racism and xenophobia as “stealing your enjoyment” helps illustrate the peculiar otherness that Roma represent. In order to understand the Roma as a signifier of otherness we need to look closely at the specificity of Bulgarians’ identification, tainted by what Todorova defines as the discourse of Balkanism - the ambiguous way the region is perceived as the specific Other of Europe. This paper argues that racism and violence in Bulgaria is prompted by a plethora of paranoid fantasies of stealing the Nation’s enjoyment, interrelated to historically formed perception and self-perception of being the Other in the EU, occurring in the socio-economic context of severe neoliberal regimes. In conclusion, Etienne Balibar’s (2004) critique of citizenship without the social under the global neoliberal model, helps bring about the need to be suspicious of the approaches of integration and inclusion, which, in a country devastated by austerity measures, feed on the fantasies of the attack of inside and outside enemies against the "national body".