The Reified Nomad: The Historical Roots of Current Anti-Roma Persecution in Europe
Across Europe we have seen a sharp increase in anti-Roma persecution, particularly in the Western democracies of France and Italy. Immigrants are being rounded up and expelled and their homes destroyed by police authorities, while private citizens have engaged in violence. This presentation will first discuss the motives for these events, and then place them into historical perspective. In particular, attention will be paid to ways in which the persecution of Roma during the Holocaust continue to influence their treatment today. Indeed, to a disturbing degree, the ideas used to legitimate such barbaric treatment survived, and even thrived, in the postwar order. The current plight of Roma in Europe cannot be understood, much less ameliorated, without recognizing the painful legacy of the Holocaust and how biological racist thinking, combined with the rationalizing efforts of the modern nation state, has continued to shape perceptions of Roma in these regions, and policies affecting them. As Hungary, Romania, Germany, Austria, and other states come to grips with what it means to belong to a united Europe, the issue of how Roma are treated within this broader society constitutes a serious challenge to the European Union's commitment to democracy and human rights. It is to be hoped that my study, through the example of Romania's own difficult past, may illuminate these broader issues.
This event will take place in the 4th floor conference room.