Exclusion and belonging of European free-movers: The example of Roma migrants in Germany and France — ASN Events

Exclusion and belonging of European free-movers: The example of Roma migrants in Germany and France (12893)

Verena Sandner Le Gall 1
  1. Department of Geography, University of Flensburg, Flensburg, SH, Germany
The recent enlargement of the European Union has facilitated mobility across borders for citizens from the two youngest member states, Romania and Bulgaria since 2007. For individuals belonging to Europe’s largest minority, the Roma, migrating to other EU countries such as France and Germany might offer chances but may also result in new, multiple forms of exclusion. While some cities have developed specific measures to give assistance to Roma migrants, these are often also affected by exclusionary practices that restrain securing livelihoods or that may lead to new, involuntary mobilities. As scholars of Roma exclusion such as Legros and Vitale (2011) have stated, the presence of Roma and their high visibility in urban spaces has figured in local conflicts and rejection combining Anti-Gypsy and security arguments in public debates. But cities’ political practices towards Roma may also reflect national migration management aims and calls for controlling migratory fluxes of specific, unwanted groups of EU free-movers. While the European Union is now a community where free-movers usually remain politically unnoticed, it can be discussed in how far Roma seem to be excluded from this principle, enjoying a form of “second-class” EU membership.  The situation of Roma migrants on the local level is therefore not only a question of urban inclusion and exclusion, but is also entangled with questions of citizenship and belonging in the enlarged EU.

The presented research project aims at understanding the multiple ways in which Roma migrants from Eastern Europe are affected in their daily lives in French and German cities by such policies and political practices that originate on different scales (supra-national, national and on the urban level). The paper offers preliminary findings from field research and discusses the conceptual outline.