UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Outside the international : Roma, Europe, and the leaky valves of modernity Thorpe, Benjamin


In the wake of the 2008 Italian census of Roma and declaration of a state of emergency in the regions of Lazio, Campania and Lombardy, I ask why it is that attempting to 'solve' the Roma 'problem' has become such a politically expedient strategy for parties across the political spectrum and throughout Europe. I address this question through the lens of 'the international', and the ways in which Roma have repeatedly been produced as its outside: the other against which the European order is defined. This creation of an outside to Europe within lies at the heart of the recent upsurge in borderwork conducted at non-traditional borders within Europe, and exposes an important paradox: the 'problem' of outsiders exposed by vacillating borders demands 'the international' be re-secured, and yet it is the very securing of 'the international' that both creates these outsiders and portrays shifting borders as a threat. I take Italy as my case study to examine how this interplay works to construct Roma as other, interpret this otherness as a threat to the integrity of the Italian state, and demand the spatial removal of Roma (into regulated camps), thus reaffirming their otherness. I therefore suggest that though the freedoms promised within the frame of the international are seductive, perhaps we ought to look elsewhere for our utopias if we are not to perpetuate a system of exclusions within Europe.

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