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Strangers among citizens

The Introduction offers a new perspective and novel theoretical tools to analyse citizenship as well as what the position of Romani minorities in Europe indicates about citizenship in liberal democratic states. Instead of looking at Roma merely as a marginalised minority or a disadvantaged group, it aims to comprehend their position as citizens.

After all, let's be honest, we aren't even capable of integrating our own Romani fellow-citizens, of whom we have hundreds of thousands. How can we integrate people who are somewhere completely else when it comes to lifestyle and religion?

Robert Fico, Prime Minister of Slovakia, quoted in Romea.cz, 2015

In the autumn of 2015, the European continent witnessed the largest movement of refugees since World War II. Whilst it was first dubbed a ‘migrant crisis’, by the end of the same year, media outlets across Europe started referring to it as the largest ‘refugee crisis’ in the European Union (EU). 1 After the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, EU Member States developed legal mechanisms, such as the Temporary Protection Directive, 2 founded on the idea of sharing responsibility in the case of greater numbers of people seeking asylum in the European Community (Sardelić, 2017a). However, in contrast to these declared EU values, several leaders of EU Member States opposed the accommodation of refugees on the basis that the asylum systems in their countries would become overburdened. These leaders used the populist sentiment of ‘putting citizens first’ to legitimise their decisions. Robert Fico, the Slovak Prime Minister at the time and the leader of the social democratic party Smer (Direction), expressed this sentiment well in the quotation above that introduces this chapter. Whilst similar to many other statements made at the time, 3 Fico's proclamation was unique in two respects. First, it was not the view of an extreme right-wing populist but of a declared progressive politician. 4 Second, this statement articulated a failure of inclusion as equal citizens for the most marginalised in Europe: the Romani minorities.

Fico's statement points to the central tenet of this book: having equal citizenship status to the majority population has not resulted in equal protection of rights for Roma. Multicultural legislation for minority protection and policies addressing specifically the position of Roma have not significantly contributed to substantive equality. There are three key questions here: (1) why do formally guaranteed rights (in constitutions and other legislation) fail to protect Roma? (2) why does international legislation and policies for inclusion fail to remedy marginalisation? and (3) do these shortcomings only speak to the case of Roma? These questions carry a sense of urgency: the perceived failure of policies targeting the integration of Romani minorities is not only under the scrutiny of (trans)national human rights activists, but is also of interest to extreme right-wing and hate groups who are searching for a justification for why, at best, Roma should remain on the margins of society or, at worst, for how to violently exclude Roma with hate crime (Mirga, 2009; Stewart, 2012; Vidra and Fox, 2014).

Romani minorities, or Roma, 5 have faced societal structures and everyday practices that have marginalised them across Europe throughout history (Pogány, 2012). The contemporary position of Romani minorities in Europe represents an ambiguity in the formation of the EU: whilst Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union highlights the ‘rights of persons belonging to minorities’ as an EU founding value, the general human rights and special group rights of Romani minorities continue to be violated. Despite their presence in Europe for centuries, Romani minorities have remained on the outskirts of European societies and are marginalised as citizens in their own countries. Roma are mostly citizens but have been constructed as aliens and presented as Europe's own internal outsiders (Powell and Lever, 2015). Romani minorities have not come from ‘anywhere else’ but have been considered strangers among citizens.

Romani activists around Europe have been addressing ethnic discrimination faced by Roma at least since the establishment of the World Romani Congress (later named the International Romani Union) in 1971 (Nirenberg, 2009; Donert, 2017). However, international organisations started referring to Roma as a marginalised ethnic minority only in the period of postsocialist transitions (Simhandl, 2009). Just prior to the 2004 EU enlargement, the position of Roma as a marginalised ethnic minority was one of the central topics connected to minority protection and human rights (Hughes and Sasse, 2003; Vermeersch, 2003; Guglielmo and Waters, 2005). More recent studies have shown that this was not because the inequality of Roma was completely unaddressed during the socialist period (Sardelić, 2015, Donert, 2017). Rather, previous structures of solidarity and inclusion nurtured under state socialism had been destroyed, and some discursive tropes from socialist systems that equated Roma with ‘unadaptable citizens’ continued after the collapse of socialism (Sokolová, 2008; Donert, 2018). In the period of the postsocialist EU enlargements, different actors – such as international organisations, European states and civil society organisations – developed a variety of legal documents, policies and initiatives for the ‘improvement’ of Roma's position. Notable among these are the 2003 Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma within the OSCE Area, the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–15 (henceforth the Roma Decade) and the subsequent EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies NRIS up to 2020 . 6

Fico made his statement not only in the midst of the ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe, but also at the end of the Roma Decade in 2015. The evaluation reports on this initiative showed that Slovakia was the least successful state in implementing the Decade's objectives (Kostka, 2018), although other countries too faced significant issues in achieving those objectives (see Brüggemann and Friedman, 2017; McGarry, 2017). Fico's statement came after the 2004, 2007 and 2013 EU enlargements, when eleven postsocialist states, many with significant Romani populations, 7 had already joined the EU. All these states were evaluated as complying sufficiently with the 1993 Copenhagen criteria for accession, which included respect for the rule of law, human rights and minority protection. Nevertheless, Fico's statement did not simply characterise the position of Romani minorities only in his native Slovakia or in just the postsocialist states: EU Member States that joined the European Community before 1993 did not develop adequate minority protection mechanisms for Romani minorities and were also violating their human rights before and after the EU enlargement. France, a founding EU Member State, was accused of violating Article 19 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights after it commenced widespread expulsions of Eastern European Roma as part of a crackdown on informal camps in the country in 2010 (Ram, 2014a; Parker and Catalán, 2014; Sardelić, 2017b).

The treatment of Roma as citizens of EU Member States and candidate countries did not significantly improve with the EU NRIS Framework. The integration strategies that these countries developed in response to this framework have not yielded the expected results. In 2016, the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) announced that 80 per cent of Roma, who are EU citizens, live in poverty in their own countries (FRA, 2016). Consequently, in 2017, the European Commission called for an audit on how EU anti-discrimination funds had been spent, since they did not eradicate socio-economic disadvantage and discrimination faced by Roma (Stupp, 2017).

Policy reports as well as scholarly studies have shown that across Europe, the position of Roma people continues to deteriorate (Sardelić and McGarry, 2017). Alongside refugees, Roma remain among the main targets for extremist and populist right-wing groups in Europe (CoE, 2016). Whilst latent Romaphobia existed long before that time (McGarry, 2017), it is particularly since 2010 that some of the highest Member States’ representatives have found the use of extreme anti-Roma rhetoric unproblematic. For example, in 2018, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, announced ethnic censuses of Roma in Italy. The goal of these censuses would be the deportation of those who were not Italian citizens. Yet at the same time, he expressed a regret that Roma who were Italian citizens could not be expelled: ‘Unfortunately we will have to keep the Italian Roma because we cannot expel them’ (Kirchgaessner, 2018). With his populist and openly exclusionary rhetoric, Salvini illustrated a similar point made by Fico earlier: the tension in terms of the politics of belonging did not completely shift to the dichotomy between citizens and migrants, but to the very topologies of citizenship itself (Hepworth, 2014).

As the statements by Fico and Salvini demonstrate, Roma are visible as an exceptional minority in the public space. Romani minorities are also visible as a ‘hard case’ in policy papers and scholarly literature (Kymlicka, 2002b: 77). In this book, I propose an alternative perspective on the position of Romani minorities as citizens in Europe: I do not intend to conceptualise their position as an exceptional or isolated minority which does not fit in with liberal democratic states and hence is a case of the minority's ‘failed belonging’. Instead I aim to scrutinise how, in various European states, legal arrangements and policies on citizenship status and rights produce and maintain the marginality of Roma. Several studies have previously argued that the failure of Romani integration should not be attributed to Roma themselves, nor be ascribed to the presumed incompatibility of Romani culture(s) with liberal democratic societies; instead they have called for a focus on the phenomena of Romaphobia (McGarry, 2017) and antigypsyism (Carrera et al., 2017). Antigypsyism has been defined as follows:

Antigypsyism is the specific racism towards Roma, Sinti, Travellers and others who are stigmatised as ‘gypsies’ in the public imagination. Although the term is finding increasing institutional recognition, there is as yet no common understanding of its nature and implications. Antigypsyism is often used in a narrow sense to indicate anti-Roma attitudes or the expression of negative stereotypes in the public sphere or hate speech. However, antigypsyism gives rise to a much wider spectrum of discriminatory expressions and practices, including many implicit or hidden manifestations. Antigypsyism is not only about what is being said, but also about what is being done and what is not being done. To recognize its full impact, a more precise understanding is crucial.

(Alliance Against Antigypsyism, 2017)

Carrera et al. (2017: 9) argue that the most widely accepted scholarly definition conceptualises antigypsyism as ‘a special form of racism directed against Roma that has at its core the assumptions that Roma are an inferior and deviant group’. Taking a parallel approach, McGarry (2017) claims that what he calls Romaphobia has a core of racism similar to that of Islamophobia and antisemitism. However, he contextualises Romaphobia in broader societal processes: ‘Romaphobia is a legacy of nation-building and state-building exercises in Europe. The key to understanding why Roma are marginalized across Europe lies in our conception of territory and space as well as processes of identity construction and maintenance’ (McGarry, 2017: 7).

For McGarry, marginalisation is then ‘a by-product of state making and nation-building, both of which march hand in hand towards a particular vision of progress’ (McGarry, 2017: 15). He links marginalisation to the relation between Romaphobia and territory/identity but explicitly signals that his work does not focus on the question of citizenship: ‘Romaphobia will unpack the relationship between identity and belonging, but is not principally concerned with the ability of Roma to access citizenship rights; rather, the book intends to shift the focus to antecedent processes of exclusion that have created the context of unequal citizenship’ (McGarry, 2017: 35–6).

Whilst acknowledging the importance of studies on Romaphobia and antigypsyism, I argue that instead of looking only at direct and indirect expressions of antigypsyism, we need to also investigate legal arrangements and policies accompanied by discourses and practices in relation to the broader context of citizenship. These may not target Roma directly but are directed at all citizens: they may not be categorised as antigypsyist, yet they end up marginalising Roma. First, whilst I subscribe to the previous conclusions that antigypsyism and Romaphobia do come in covert forms (McGarry, 2017; Carrera et al., 2017: 9), the marginalisation of Roma can also be a product of laws and policies that are neutral and seemingly all-inclusive. 8 Second, I claim that a different light needs to be shed on some policies and laws for the integration of Roma. Member States and international organisations can argue that they have constructed these policies and laws as benevolent for Roma, yet these policies may have adverse effects and contribute to the marginalisation rather than inclusion of Roma. Third, I analyse laws and policies as well as the ways in which state authorities use these laws and policies to justify actions that are clearly racist towards Roma. Here I will investigate official state discourses used to legitimise racism towards Roma.

There has been an emerging consensus that the position of Roma in Europe is a unique one, but can this lead to a conclusion that legal discourses and political practices used for the marginalisation of Roma have also been unique? In this book, I also contest the position of policymakers and public authorities who argue that the status of Roma as marginalised minorities in Europe is unique to such an extent that it is difficult to develop adequate policies for their integration. My claim is that the marginalisation of Roma may appear to be a distinctive European case so long as it is not positioned within a broader context. By scrutinising the policies that were constructed to address the position of Roma, I argue that the processes by which they are marginalised as citizens are in no sense exceptional: similar policies have been used around the globe when addressing the position of marginalised minorities in other contexts within Western liberal democracies and beyond. The aim of this book is also to situate the treatment of Roma as citizens within a broader, global perspective.

To understand how Roma have become and remain marginalised, this book introduces the concept of invisible edges of citizenship. 9 In my definition, invisible edges of citizenship manifest themselves as unintended consequences of policies and laws that make seemingly unfitting minorities visible. Using a socio-legal approach, I will investigate how the invisible edges of citizenship create what I call the fringes of citizenship: a space where marginalised minorities are manifestly included as a special group but yet latently marginalised as citizens. In the next section, I elaborate how these two concepts are novel in regard to previous discussions within citizenship studies.

Theorising citizenship from the fringe

Aidan McGarry (2017) states that Romaphobia should be discussed from the perspective of broader social science debates and should not remain within the realm of Romani studies. Romaphobia, he argues, highlights the wider processes in which polities and states construct themselves through the concept of territory and identity. This book makes a similar claim about the relationship between the marginalisation of Roma and the construction of citizenship. I analyse the position of Roma and ask broader questions about the marginalisation of minorities from the perspective of citizenship studies. Roma live in different EU and non-EU countries in Europe variously as citizens and non-citizens. The legal statuses of Roma, however, are often exponentially diverse: some Roma are EU citizens who have their freedom of movement hindered (Parker and Catalán, 2014; Sardelić, 2017b); others have multiple forced migrant statuses (such as Duldung or the temporary suspension of deportation) in the EU and on its outskirts (van Baar, 2017; Sardelić, 2018); and some are undocumented, legally invisible or even stateless (Sigona, 2015; Sardelić, 2015). All these different legal statuses have something in common: they can be considered precarious citizenship (Lori, 2017) and abject citizenship (Sharkey and Shields, 2008; Hepworth, 2012).

I approach the marginalisation of Roma as citizens from the perspective of global citizenship studies (Isin and Nyers, 2014; Vermeersch, 2014), understanding citizenship as ‘an “institution” mediating between the subjects of politics and the polity to which these subjects belong’ (Isin and Nyers, 2014: 1). As Isin and Nyers argue, and Seyla Benhabib (2000) before them, citizenship concerns not only citizens, but also non-citizens who make claims of belonging to the possible future citizenry.

In an age of increased mobility and with diversified legal statuses, citizenship, contrary to expectation, is not losing its grip (Shachar et al., 2017). Instead, the concept of citizenship has undergone significant transformations both in theory and in practice. These transformations have transgressed the previous boundaries of its definition as simply a membership in a sovereign polity. The theory of citizenship, as conceptualised in the classic text by Thomas Humphrey Marshall, Citizenship and Social Class (1949), has been criticised by scholars of global citizenship studies for conceptualising citizenship in containment and thus making his theory applicable only to one polity in a specific place and time (Harrington, 2014; Walter, 2014). Citizenship as a concept has been reconstructed within as well as beyond this polity (Gonzales and Sigona, 2017) and beyond the very concept of nationality (Isin, 2012). On the one hand, citizenship has become diversified beyond states because it is also shaped by international and global actors and can be grasped in terms of global studies (Isin and Nyers, 2014); and on the other, citizenship has become differentiated within states primarily with an aim to include those groups previously excluded from enjoying full rights in their own states.

Protection of minority rights, affirmative action and explicit prohibition of discrimination are a few examples of the transformation of citizenship from within. These are interventions that address the subordinate position of marginalised minorities as citizens. Theoretically the debates around these interventions have been conceptualised as multicultural (Kymlicka, 1995) and differentiated citizenship (Young, 1989). In practice, liberal democratic states around the globe have introduced a variety of special rights in their legislation and policies in order to reduce the inequality among different groups of citizens. A number of minorities who have previously been in a subordinated position have benefited from what Kymlicka (1995) calls ‘group-differentiated rights’ and have been hence more equally included within broader societal cultures. Yet despite the manifest progress in transforming citizenship into a more inclusive endeavour, some minorities remain in a subordinate position even when they have been granted group-differentiated rights in practice. Recent political debates have mainly highlighted inadequate policies for integrating different immigrant groups, in particular refugees and forced migrants, who are not citizens. Migrants have been dubbed multicultural others (Bhambra, 2016: 188). Whilst the official motto of the EU is ‘In variate concordia’ (‘Unity in diversity’), public discourse in Europe has portrayed their others’ ‘imported multiculturalism’ as a threat because they were perceived as incompatible with the liberal democratic order (Bhambra, 2016: 188).

This book argues that it is not just the latest ‘newcomers’ who face such a predicament. The position of numerous groups identified as national minorities has improved because of the laws and policies attributed to multicultural citizenship. However, there are also traditionally settled minorities in Europe, and around the world, who have been accorded group-differentiated rights and yet are still facing disproportionate scales of inequalities. Romani minorities in Europe, African Americans as well as many Indigenous peoples, experience a very similar quandary and remain at what I call the fringes of citizenship.

Earlier theoretical debates have categorised Roma as not fitting the ideal types of multicultural citizenship, such as either ‘national minorities’ or ‘migrants’, but claimed that they have certain similarities with the African Americans in the US (Kymlicka, 2002a: 365). The statuses of Roma in different countries were seen as too diverse to be compared to any other possible ideal type category: ‘the Roma will probably have to negotiate a new status within each country, and this status may indeed differ dramatically depending on the size, history, internal diversity, and cultural retention of the various Romani communities within each country. There are no Western models for this complicated process’ (Kymlicka, 2002b: 76).

Some scholars have subsequently agreed that the position of Romani minorities is so diverse that it cannot be categorised in terms of ideal types of multicultural citizenship: ‘It is simply not possible to fit the Roma into the homogeneous and constitutive community model and thus they tend to be excluded from such theoretical remodelling’ (O’Nions, 2015: 147). However, in the later attempts to classify Roma in terms of ideal minority type, other authors have labelled them non-territorial (Klímová-Alexander, 2007), transnational (McGarry, 2010) and trans-border (Rövid, 2011a), and have even showed how they were constructed as a stateless minority (Jenne, 2000). Such categorisations have very real effects when it comes to granting certain rights but, as I show in this book, even more so when it comes to restricting them (freedom of movement or rights on the basis of territory, for example). Whilst Western European states did not offer an ideal type model for Romani integration – despite the fact that Romani minorities were citizens in Western European states such as Spain, France and the UK, for example, long before the postsocialist EU enlargement – they did apply similar discriminatory measures to Roma as the postsocialist EU Member States (Parker, 2012; Ram, 2014b; Sardelić, 2017b) despite being ‘models’ for the rule of law, human rights and minority protection.

Theories of multicultural and differentiated citizenship have highlighted the importance of the diversification of universal citizenship to accord special rights to marginalised groups. For some, other types of diversified citizenship statuses have appeared to further restrict the rights of marginalised minorities: Roma have been categorised as semi-citizens (Cohen, 2009) and abject citizens (Hepworth, 2012) as they do have the citizenship status, but not necessarily the rights associated with that status. Notions of citizenship have been developed within and beyond states in the form of topologies: ‘a topological approach emphasised the proliferation of inside-out and outside-in positions that are produced through the act of delimiting the border’ (Hepworth, 2014: 112).

Examining the positions of Roma through the lens of citizenship studies has been a fruitful endeavour over the last few decades. There have been two main focuses within this work: (1) on Romani activism (Vermeersch, 2005; McGarry, 2010); and (2) on Romani migrants (Aradau et al., 2013; Çağlar and Mehling, 2013; Faure Atger, 2013). On Romani activism, in 2018 alone there were at least three books published on this subject (Corradi, 2018; Kóczé et al., 2018; Beck and Ivansiuc, 2018). These scholarly debates also included the much-neglected voices of Romani female scholars and activists (Matache, 2018; Kóczé, 2018; Kurtić and Jovanović, 2018; Mirga-Kruszelnicka, 2018). On Romani migrants, in the last decade alone there have been at least four journal special issues focusing on the position of Romani migrants (see Sigona and Vermeersch, 2012; Yuval-Davis et al., 2017; Yildiz and De Genova, 2018; Durst and Nagy, 2018) as well several edited volumes (Pusca, 2012; Matras and Leggio, 2018; Magazzini and Piemontese, 2019).

Whilst acknowledging the importance of Romani activism and the study of migration, I shift the focus in this book to civic marginalisation for a number of reasons. First, migration of Roma has been an important phenomenon, but the overwhelming amount of literature on Romani migrants gives an impression that most Roma migrate, which is not the case (Sardelić, 2019a). Available data indicate that most Roma do not migrate, but their migration has been of particular interest to policymakers and the media. The ‘category of practice’ (that is, the focus of the public discourse on Romani migrants) has been converted into a ‘category of analysis’ (Brubaker, 2012). Second, the scholarly literature has rightly stressed the importance of Romani activism. However, there has been less discussion on how Roma contest the invisible edges of citizenship as non-activists in their everyday lives (Sigona, 2015; Sardelić, 2017b; Humphries, 2019). Third, there is an assumption that within the struggles on citizenship fringes, there are activists contesting the invisible edges of citizenship, whilst the side of law and policies remains static. In the case of Romani minorities, very few studies have shown that this is not the case (van Baar, 2017; Magazzini, 2017; Kostka, 2018). It is also the policymakers and state representatives who interpret and apply the law and policies through ‘acts of sovereignty’ (Nyers, 2006). It is through enacted laws and policies that they can either enhance marginalisation or contest it.

This book highlights a different angle to performative citizenship (Isin, 2017): that is, how dominant groups maintain their position through the invisible edges of citizenship and contribute to the marginalisation of other citizens. I do not treat Roma as the object of my research nor do I intend to speak on their behalf. Such approaches towards Roma most often reinforce antigypsyist ideologies. However, it is necessary to highlight that concepts like citizenship are the main building blocks of our society with great potential to result in diametrically opposing outcomes: they can lead to more equality or to more marginalisation. Most studies have highlighted how Roma are marginalised along ethnic or socio-economic lines. This book looks specifically at civic marginalisation, which, as David Owen (2013: 328–9) notes, refers ‘to the phenomenon of being (or becoming) marginal relative to the abstract norm of equal membership in the democratic state as that norm is concretely instantiated in the figure of the national citizen’. In contrast to Owen, I do not primarily analyse civic marginalisation of migrants, but that of minority citizens, who may in some instances be migrants. However, the ‘abstract norm of equal membership in the democratic state’ and the question of how citizens of Romani background are critically excluded from this equal membership are at the heart of the analysis. I base the understanding of civic marginalisation on previous intersectional approaches: these do not necessarily refer only to ethnic self-identification or class categorisation. Roma who are not socio-economically deprived or direct targets of ethnic discrimination can still be marginalised as citizens. 10

The book highlights the cleavages that citizenship regimes create and that contribute to the continued marginalisation of certain minorities. These minorities are perceived as not fitting the liberal citizenship ideal. A number of political theorists have shown that ‘colour-blind’ liberal conceptions of citizenship are not universal but merely provide a specific outlook from certain cultures that fails to include culturally different minorities (see Taylor, 1994). This book goes a step further. It introduces the concept of the invisible edges of citizenship that seem neutral or even beneficial to marginalised minorities but, in fact, do not simply exclude the difference, but actively construct it in order to justify the exclusion. In this way, invisible edges of citizenship produce marginalisation not as a by-product of the citizenship concept, but as something that exists at its very core. In other words, the marginalisation and the difference that are in practice incompatible with the ideal notion of citizenship are not simply out there but are created and re-created within it. The aim of this book is to investigate the invisible edges of citizenship and not to create a new ideal type in which Roma would fit.

Instead of attempting to categorise Roma in different ideal types, the book shifts the focus to citizenship itself: it is the way citizenship is constructed in different states that positions the Roma as unfitting, and epistemic violence (Spivak, 1988) redraws the boundaries of citizenship (Mezzazdra and Neilson, 2013; van Baar, 2017) and reinforces civic marginalisation. Following Taylor (1994) on his discussion of the politics of recognition, I challenge the understanding that Roma simply do not fit the liberal notion of citizenship or that their culture is foreign and hence incompatible with it. Multicultural citizenship as it manifests itself in practice creates the invisible edges of citizenship and positions certain marginalised minorities on the fringes. In each chapter of this book, I highlight an example of these edges and the kind of fringes they create. I also show parallels with other marginalised minorities to illustrate that the position of Roma is not exceptional when it comes to practices of exclusion.

The fringes of citizenship are positionalities shaped by invisible edges of citizenship. The citizenship fringe is a space where marginalised minorities find themselves. It is a space of an alleged paradox: marginalised minorities in this space have a number of group-specific rights, yet are not equal citizens as their universal citizenship rights are continually violated. The position of these minorities seems to be at the same time visible and invisible. Their position is both over-addressed and under-addressed. Their rights seem manifestly over-protected, but they are at the same time latently under-protected. The fringes of citizenship are not a static and fixed space. They resonate with the performative notion of citizenship as developed by Engin Isin (2017). The fringes of citizenship have multiple manifestations in society: at the fringes of citizenship, marginalised minorities readdress the notion of citizenship as activist citizens through political action that subverts the current system (Isin, 2009). However, I argue that the subversion of citizenship does not happen only through what is usually perceived as the political action (protests and social movement) of manifestly activist citizens, but also includes more everyday mundane acts (Sardelić, 2017b). The inclusion of these practices shows that the repertoire of citizenship subversion is much broader than previously thought and that marginalised minorities cannot be considered apolitical even when they do not fall neatly within the definition of activist citizens (Bhambra, 2015: 104). At the same time, the book shows that it is not only marginalised minorities who subvert citizenship, but that through different interpretations of citizenship laws and policies (and their selective application in practice), the state authorities and the majority population can also either reinforce the invisible edges of citizenship or undermine them.

Socio-legal analysis of civic marginalisation and the approach of connected sociologies

This book offers a socio-legal enquiry into the civic marginalisation of Romani minorities. It seeks to show that similar invisible edges of citizenship have been applied through laws and policies for other marginalised citizens around the globe. Distinct from doctrinal legal research, the socio-legal method is an interdisciplinary approach which focuses on law as a social phenomenon (Cownie and Bradney, 2013). Whilst law can be seen as a set of abstract norms, it is not created in a vacuum but represents a battlefield moulded in a particular context (Wheeler and Thomas, 2000). It is usually understood that ‘socio’ in the term ‘socio-legal’ represents a sociological approach. However, it could also mean that it takes a variety of approaches from different social sciences as well as humanities: besides sociology, law can be analysed from the perspective of political sciences, international relations, cultural studies and even anthropology. In relation to the initial commitment of socio-legal studies to deconstructing global power relations (Harrington and Manji, 2017), in this book I take the approach of connected sociologies (Bhambra, 2014) and apply it to the analysis of law and policies that contribute to the marginalisation of Roma as citizens within Europe. The aim of such analysis is to go beyond fitting minorities into ideal types:

In standard accounts of ideal types, the consequence is a plurality of processes that are disconnected precisely because the function of ideal types is to separate some events and “entities” from others and to represent their internal relationship, thereby making other entities and events mere contingencies from the perspective of those relations.

(Bhambra, 2014: 4)

This book takes an approach to the study of citizenship similar to that of Bhambra (2015: 104), who examined ‘claims on citizenship where particular connections have been denied by the dominant group, both historically and conceptually, in terms of their very definition of what constitutes citizenship’. Following the approach of connected sociologies and by highlighting the predicament of marginalised citizens in Europe, the book makes a theoretical enquiry into the paradoxes around citizenship that construct exclusion when it should be offering all-encompassing inclusion.

Connected sociologies ‘seek to reconstruct theoretical categories – their relations and objects – to create new understandings and transform previous ones’ (Bhambra, 2014: 4). In this book, for example, I oppose the understanding of the marginalised position of Romani minorities as a postsocialist problem. Instead, I look at the interconnectedness of international and global interventions in the transforming spaces in Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall and EU enlargement. Whilst the connected sociologies approach was previously applied to show interconnectedness between different global regions, this book claims that a similar approach should be taken when considering different regions within Europe itself and its diverse citizenry. Instead of looking at Europe as two separate entities, the ‘old’ democracies in the West and the new postsocialist democracies in the East, it looks at how different ideas about the treatment of Roma are transferred across both. Some authors have previously argued that the position of Roma should be explored through the lens of postcolonial theory (Trehan and Kóczé, 2009). Others argue that after EU enlargement, it is more fruitful to look at the postsocialist citizenship regimes through the lens of postcolonial citizenship (Rigo, 2005). However, a comprehensive study of how Romani minorities are positioned as marginalised citizens in Europe is still lacking.

This book provides a theoretical intervention on the position of Roma in Europe from a global citizenship studies perspective. Nevertheless, I do not intend to compare different positions of marginalised minorities per se to show how Roma do not fit either traditional national minorities or Indigenous groups. Instead of examining the position of Roma as a single ambiguity for (supra-)national citizenship in Europe, the book turns to the common invisible edges of citizenship that different marginalised minorities face around the globe as citizens. It maps these invisible edges through a variety of case studies of civic marginalisation, from Roma in Europe to African Americans in the US and Indigenous people in other anglophone settler states. In recent years, scholarly research has highlighted the similarities between Indigenous people and Roma in Europe (see Armillei and Lobo (2017) and Taylor et al. (2018) on Indigenous Australians and Roma, and Takacs (2017) on the over-representation of Roma and New Zealand Māori in prisons) as well as Roma and African Americans (Chang and Rucker-Chang, 2020). However, such a comparison from the perspective of citizenship studies is yet to be conducted.

The various case studies presented in this book show the specificities of the positions of different marginalised minorities. Investigating the invisible edges of citizenship offers a parallel insight into how these minorities become marginalised. There are not only parallels between the different positions of marginalised minorities around the globe, including in Europe, but also an interconnectedness in the ways different citizenship regimes construct and address their marginalisation. Similar invisible edges of citizenship that marginalise Roma, Indigenous people, and African Americans exist globally not only for migrant populations, but also for traditionally settled citizens who have been designated as not belonging to the mainstream citizenry. They are positioned on the fringes of citizenship. Yet it is at the fringes of citizenship that the struggles for redefining citizenship occur. I will show that Romani minorities face invisible edges of citizenship similar to those faced by Indigenous people and African Americans when they redefine the core of citizenship status, rights and belonging (Joppke, 2007). Certain developmental approaches primarily established in Europe to deal with the ‘developing world’ are being imported back to Europe to deal with its own marginalised populations in the process of EU enlargement. The ideas behind marginalisation, as well as the resistance to it, circulate back and forth between Europe and other continents to be (re)used again in this context.

Outline of the book

Chapter 1 discusses the naming and counting of Romani minorities and approaches towards Roma as minority citizens in different EU Member States and candidate countries. Since the 1990s, international organisations have described Roma as ‘living scattered all over Europe, not having a country to call their own, they are a true European minority, but one that does not fit into the definitions of national or linguistic minorities’ (CoE, 1993). Whilst in the first part of the chapter I look at national legislation on minority protection, in the latter half I examine the reports of the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Commission to analyse how they describe Roma as a transnational minority. I highlight how the documents of European international organisations use developmental discourse to describe the position of Roma in Europe that is similar to the narrative of the United Nations (UN) on Indigenous people. I argue that the invisible edges of citizenship that have manifested themselves as perceived non-territorialism and alleged underdevelopment of Roma have contributed to a lesser scope of minority rights in some contexts. Finally, the chapter studies the interplay between international and national law in the context of defining the status of Indigenous people. It looks at the invisible edges of citizenship for Indigenous people in Australia, Canada and the US in the wake of the creation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). It shows that both Roma in Europe and Indigenous people in the four settler colonial states found themselves on the fringes of citizenship where states highlighted their positions as minority groups but at the same time made them invisible as citizens.

Chapter 2 scrutinises the connection between the right to territoriality and the mobility of marginalised minorities. I particularly look at how the perception of Roma as a ‘deviant culture’ (in particular nomadism) contributes to the forceful restriction of their rights (such as the right to free movement). The chapter first examines the cases of free movement restriction of Roma in the socialist period as a means of inclusion within the socialist citizenry. Second, by analysing the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) case Dano v. Jobcenter Leipzig (Case C–333/13, 2014), it pinpoints the invisible edges of citizenship: whilst the court case is seemingly neutral as it does not mention Roma, different states took it to limit the rights of Roma, who are EU citizens. State authorities limit Romani freedom of movement because they construct Roma as a security threat (van Baar, 2017). Third, it looks at the restricted mobility rights of Roma who are citizens of EU candidate countries. This chapter argues that all these cases should be seen not simply in terms of the right to mobility, but in terms of the rights certain groups have on particular territories. It then examines whether there are any similarities in relation to territory and mobility in the case of Indigenous people in Australia. Although both of these groups have rights on the territory where they live, their claims have been suspended when they have been in conflict either with the sovereignty of the states or with the economic interests of the states (as in the case of the Intervention in the Northern Territory in Australia). The chapter concludes that freedom of movement and territorial rights are two sides of the same coin: it is the states that grant or restrict them, and this leads to the positioning of marginalised minorities at the fringes of citizenship.

Chapter 3 focuses on the ‘making of citizens’ through education. Education in liberal democracies represents a possible corrective mechanism for inequalities among future citizens. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds should get an equal chance of inclusion into society through the education system. However, I argue that in practice education can also be structured in such a way that it actively creates the fringes of citizenship. Using an intersectional reading, this chapter analyses how states justify the school segregation of Romani children as a legitimate measure. It looks at four European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) cases of school segregation in Europe – D.H. and Others v. Czech Republic (2007), Sampanis and Others v. Greece (2008), Oršuš and Others v. Croatia (2010) and Sampani and Others v. Greece (2012) – to argue that state discourses either denied the existence of segregation or portrayed it as a beneficial measure that would allow Romani children to ‘catch up’ with the majority language. The chapter compares these cases with the reasoning present in US court cases on African American children and school segregation. It shows that in the US case segregation was legal on paper, whilst in the European cases segregation was prohibited. Still, in both cases segregation remains as one of the fringes of citizenship both for Roma and African American children.

Chapter 4 looks at the position of Roma without access to citizenship: those who are stateless. A total of 75 per cent of stateless people belong to minority groups, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (2020). However, not all minorities are equally vulnerable to statelessness. Whilst most stateless minorities have no access to political rights, some do have a broad range of economic and social rights. For example, Russian speakers in the Baltic states are politically marginalised but are not at the fringes of citizenship when it comes to their socio-economic rights. However, other minorities, such as some Roma, cannot prove their citizenship and so have no rights granted whatsoever. They find themselves in a space in between (Sardelić, 2015; Lori, 2017) where they do not fit either the definition of citizen or the definition of a stateless person. I call this position a total infringement of citizenship. The chapter argues that Romani individuals not only are passive observers of this infringement, but they create alternative ways to access rights denied by states (Sigona, 2015; Sardelić 2017b). It explores how states hinder access to citizenship for certain minorities through citizenship laws and other legislation. The chapter argues that statelessness is always a product of state intervention rather than of the lack of it or the lack of interest of stateless minorities in regularising their status. To examine this, the chapter first scrutinises cases where Romani individuals have found their access to citizenship hindered (such as the cases of Yugoslav and Czechoslovak disintegration and in the migratory context where they migrate into other European countries, such as Italy). It then compares the position of stateless Roma with the positions of other stateless minorities around the globe, such as Rohingya from Myanmar, residents of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic and the children of the ‘Windrush generation’ in the UK. The question of whether the creation of statelessness in liberal democracies is ultimately different from that in less democratic states (such as Myanmar) is also raised.

The penultimate chapter looks at how states address Roma as (active) citizens and how Roma reconstruct citizenship at its fringes as activist citizens. It exposes how fringes are created by states, by international organisations and through the everyday practices of majority populations. However, the main body of the chapter explores another meaning of the fringe: marginalised minorities on the fringe also subvert and reconstruct the core understanding of citizenship from this fringe. These acts are not necessarily only activism but also include everyday mundane practices that carry the potential of political action. I name this form of enactment citizenship sabotage.

The concluding chapter summarises the main findings of all the previous chapters so as to theoretically grasp the invisible edges of citizenship and the fringes of citizenship. It concludes that in order to understand marginalisation further research on the structural mechanisms leading to marginalisation needs to be conducted. The conclusion rejects the claim that marginalisation is incidental and directly points to the mechanisms that produce it. It also rejects the claim that Roma and other marginalised minorities are themselves to blame for marginalisation, discrimination and their exclusion from society, where they should be included as citizens. It discards the claim that Roma are just passive observers of their position. Rather, they do address it and subvert it: the subversion at the fringes of citizenship, I argue, also carries the potential for the reconstruction of citizenship itself to become truly inclusive and without invisible edges. The conclusion also identifies some critical policy guidelines on how the invisible edges of citizenship could be avoided in the future.


1 The notion of a refugee crisis is problematic (Anderson, 2016; Sardelić, 2017a; Sigona, 2018). Here I use it to mean a crisis of response to accommodating refugees in Europe and not as a crisis brought by refugees.
2 The full title of the Temporary Protection Directive is Council Directive 2001/55/EC on Minimum Standards for Giving Temporary Protection in the Event of a Mass Influx of Displaced Persons and on Measures Promoting a Balance of Efforts between Member States in Receiving Such Persons and Bearing the Consequences Thereof. The directive was developed after the war in Kosovo in 2001 to promote the cooperation and solidarity among the then Member States of the European Community (Sardelić, 2017a).
3 For example, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated: ‘Hungary's historical given is that we live together with a few hundred thousand Roma. This was decided by someone, somewhere. This is what we inherited. This is our situation, this is our predetermined condition … We are the ones who have to live with this, but we don't demand from anyone, especially not in the direction of the West, that they should live together with a large Roma minority’ (quoted in Kallius et al., 2016: 8).
4 There was a backlash towards Fico's statement from the Group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, which he was part of as a proclaimed Social Democrat: ‘Until Robert Fico shows he is a progressive, he does not deserve a place in the Party of European Socialists’ (S&D, 2015).
5 In most of the relevant academic literature and policy papers since the 1990s, Romani minorities have been named as Roma. There has been much academic discussion on what the term Roma means. As Peter Vermeersch notes: ‘[There is] growing agreement that it makes sense to view Romani identity – as any form of ethnicity – not simply as a matter of isolated group characteristics, but rather as the product of complex classification processes involving both classifiers and those classified as Roma … In this way, it is also easier to make sense of prevailing exonyms that are used to refer to more or less the same population (such names as Gypsy, Zigeuner, and Tsigane); their equivalents in the Eastern European languages (such as cigán, cikán, cigány, etc), and the self-appellations that serve as subidentities (such as Kalderash, Manush, Caló, Vlach, Romungro, Beash, Sinto, etc). All these categories relate in some way to the overarching term Roma – a term that has historically served as a self-appellation for speakers of the Romani language (sometimes called Romanes) but is now used to encompass a wider group of people, including those who do not speak Romanes but for socio-cultural or political reasons still identify themselves, or are identified by others, as belonging to this group’ (Vermeersch, 2017: 227). Following Vermeersch's position, and my previous work (Sardelić, 2015: 174), in this book I use the term ‘Romani minorities’ when I want to emphasise the heterogeneity and hybridity of this particular minority identity. The notion of Romani minorities also includes individuals who do not identify as Roma (such as Sinti, Ashkali, Egyptians, Manoush, Gitano and Travellers, among others), but are externally categorised either as Roma or derogatively as Gypsies. I use the term ‘Roma’ when I am referring to the politically engaged term used by either Romani activists or different state institutions and international organisations. The power of naming is discussed in more detail in Chapter 2.
6 The EU NRIS Framework is based on European Commission, 2011b.
7 The EU cites the following estimates of the Romani population in each EU Member State (total number and percentage of the total population for each country): Austria (25,000 or 0.3%); Belgium (30,000 or 0.29%); Bulgaria (750,000 or 10.33%); Croatia (up to 40,000 or 1%); Cyprus (1,250 or 0.16%); Czech Republic (250,000 or 1.93%); Denmark (5,500 or 0.1%); Estonia (1,250 or 0.1%); Finland (11,000 or 0.21%); France (400,000 or 0.21%); Germany (105,000 or 0.13%); Greece (265,000 or 2.47%); Hungary (700,000 or 7.05%); Ireland (37,500 or 0.9%); Italy (140,000 or 0.23%); Latvia (5,600 or 0.3%); Lithuania (3,000 or 0.08%); Luxembourg (300 or 0.06%); Malta (no Romani population according to estimates); Netherlands (37,500 or 0.24%); Poland (12,731 or 0.1%); Portugal (up to 70,000 or 0.52%); Romania (1.85 million or 8.32%); Slovakia (500,000 or 9%); Slovenia (8,500 or 0.42%); Spain (725,000 or 1.57%); and Sweden (42,500 or 0.46%). According to these estimates, there are approximately 6 million EU citizens identified as belonging to Romani minorities. In the Member States that joined the EU before 2004, there are around 2 million Roma, and in those that joined later, around 4 million (European Union Official Website, 2015). It is not clear how these estimates were calculated.
8 This statement echoes previous positions, such as Young's (1989) notion of ‘differentiated citizenship’. However, when I talk about neutral laws and policies I am scrutinising those that have already been observed through the lens of differentiated and multicultural citizenship. Later in this chapter I explain how my understanding of such laws and policies is different.
9 This book acknowledges previous uses of the phrase ‘the edges of citizenship’ in existing academic literature (especially the extraordinary work of Hepworth (2015), Alderson et al. (2005) and Gerald (2019)). Whilst these works do use the term, they do not provide a theoretical conceptualisation of it. It was this lack of a theoretical analysis of ‘the edges of citizenship’ that formed the basis of my now completed EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie individual fellowship project.
10 There needs to be an awareness that not all Romani minorities can be necessarily labelled as marginalised as not all Roma belong to the most impoverished social class. However, marginalisation works on multiple levels and is not limited only to social class. As some scholars have shown in their work, educated middle-class Roma can face various shades of marginalisation. For example, Durst and Nyírő (2018) have shown that educated Romani women often feel marginalised both from the majority society and from their own communities. Whilst I do not assume that all Romani individuals are marginalised, in this book I am focusing on the majority that are, and the different ways in which this marginalisation can present itself.
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The Fringes of Citizenship

Romani Minorities in Europe and Civic Marginalisation


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