On the margins of the states : contesting Gypsyness and belonging in the Slovak-Ukrainian-Hungarian borderlands and in selected migration contexts
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This thesis investigates the transnational migration of Slovakian Roma from the eastern borderlands of the European Union to Great Britain. Based on more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork in the village of Tarkovce and in several British cities, this study examines concrete pathways through which Roma come to migrate and experience their movement. For Tarkovce Roma, the most recent migration opportunity offers a potential means to carve out a sense of a viable life and of autonomy amidst the oppressive circumstances and asymmetrical relations they experience with non-Roma dominant groups and non-related Roma. I focus on Tarkovce Roma strivings for existential mobility, which condition their physical movement to the place of destination, and on their hopes for upward socio-economic mobility. I argue that migration enables Roma to contest and re-negotiate the hegemonic racial and social categories which historically place them at the bottom of social hierarchies. The thesis explores the unevenly distributed possibilities and complex inequalities that Tarkovce Roma encounter on their journeys towards realising their hopes in migration. I situate these differences within the daily sociability of Tarkovce Roma, intense webs of kinship and friendship ties, and key concepts of ‘soft hearts’ and ‘heaviness.’ I describe how Roma migrants come to occupy one of the most vulnerable positions in the British labour market and how they simultaneously, and constantly, search for other ways of making ‘big money.’ Finally, I address questions of categorisations, in particular the internal differentiations between Roma, as well as the transformation that many Roma migrants encounter in British cities, from initial ‘invisibility’ to ‘visibility’. By focusing on one particular neighbourhood in Glasgow, I analyse the shifting forms of ethno-cultural categorisations that mark Roma/Gypsy difference.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2022-06-08
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 8th June 2022
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