Romani Politics in Contemporary Europe: Poverty, Ethnic Mobilization and the Neoliberal Order
The profound shifts in economic policy towards neoliberal market principles in the 1990s in the former socialist countries of Europe (economic ‘shock therapy' in some cases) resulted in catastrophic labor market exclusion and unemployment for many Romani Europeans. Although some scholars have discussed the adverse implications of liberal democratic transitions in former socialist states for Roma in particular, few have analyzed the impacts of neoliberal policies that have dominated European political landscapes since the 1980s. Only recently have Western NGOs and governments in Europe begun to discuss the scale of the challenges posed by the past two decades of neglect and poor policy interventions vis-à-vis Romani citizens in Europe. It appears as if the policy-making elite in post-socialist Europe was concentrated in one corner of the room focusing on American-inspired ‘democratization' programs whose agenda was civil and political rights enhancement (via legislative change and rule-of-law reforms), while the social and economic conditions of Romani communities went neglected in the opposite corner for many years. Contributing author Jud Nirenberg, along with co-editors Nando Sigona and Nidhi Trehan of the new interdisciplinary book, ‘Romani Politics in Contemporary Europe: Poverty, Ethnic Mobilization and the Neoliberal Order' will discuss key themes raised in this comparative work on political mobilization of Romani communities, in an effort to make sense of the often paradoxical socio-political landscape of contemporary ‘democratic' Europe.