Monday Linkage: Roma and race links

by on 2013-10-28 in Duck- 2 Comments

The recent ‘Maria’ case- involving a young blonde girl taken from a Roma family and found to be the daughter of a Bulgarian Roma couple- has inspired greater scrutiny of Roma communities.  More specifically, there have been subsequent cases of children taken from their Roma families because they did not ‘look’ Roma; however subsequent DNA tests confirmed the children to be the ‘legitimate’ biological children of their parents. A recent Spectator post calls the cases: a clash of “two great hysterias…racism and child-snatching, the Guardian’s obsession versus the Sun’s.” These cases have inspired interesting debate about race and family and shed light on a ‘new’ kind of racial profiling. As Lindy West at Jezebel recently put it “The cultural complexities here are daunting. “We noticed your kid didn’t look like you, so we took it” seems like it sets a bonkers precedent.”

Despite targeting blonde children within Roma communities, and the recent Irish police ‘blunder’ involving the removal of a blonde child from its biological family, the Irish government has claimed that there is no racial profiling taking place in these communities. This process of removing children from their home and placing them in the care of the state, while forcing parents to undergo DNA tests, has been raised as an invasion of both the parents and the child’s rights. Human rights groups are calling for an independent investigation of the cases.

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  • Ronanfitz

    Irish society (and British) also has deep, historic issues with
    discriminating (and reviling) Irish travellers (also known as ‘Gypsies but different ) which doesnt bode well for the future vis a vis the Roma (although ‘child snatching’ isnt as common a trope with Travellers anymore – it was something my grandmother would have said, as a throwaway remark, rather than something that has any purchase anymore)
    The claim of the Irish government (of no racial profilling) is of course ridiculous. The Roma seem to be the one group in Europe (particularly Central/East) that people can openly despise

  • Mary Manjikian

    There are also some really interesting geography issues here, having to do with the politics of space. In each of the instances, not only were the Roma family’s rights violated, but the space that they occupied was treated much differently than other space within that nation. Why was it considered appropriate to come into their neighborhoods and into their homes and to start rounding up kids who didn’t look like their parents? There is actually a larger debate taking place in Britain about what exactly constitutes a dwelling for the purposes of requiring a warrant — and we see some of these issues reflected here as well.

    In my last book, I wrote about the idea of squats and refugee camps being portrayed as a sort of ‘internal failed space’ within the confines of European nations in particular — and the push to reintegrate these spaces better into the surrounding territory. The rhetoric about dangerous refugee camps and squatter encampments in Europe which pose such a threat that one no longer needs to obey any sorts of civil rights legislation (the securitization of space within a nation) has been going on since Sarkozy’s attempt to shut down the French Roma camps and deport their citizens since 2009. What I find more jarring about the recent events is the fact that the media is not calling attention to the state’s understanding that some people living within a nation’s borders have significantly fewer rights than others — or asking why that is.