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UBC Theses and Dissertations

No Roma land : the spatial politics of inclusion in France Manson, Daniel


This dissertation examines how Roma people from Eastern Europe living in Strasbourg, France, as well as Romani people who are French citizens have been affected by various state efforts to regulate their mobility and place of residence. Based on 12 months of fieldwork in 2016, I explore the processes of illegalization that render certain Roma populations that are citizens of the European Union vulnerable to exclusion from the rights of full EU citizenship. Much of my analysis revolves around the particular spaces created by the municipality of Strasbourg for Roma people from Eastern Europe: temporary villages d’insertion—integration villages—officially aimed at incorporating Roma who were then living in unauthorized urban squats. I analyze how gaining access to adequate housing and social services means submitting to the control of the city and to the uncertain potentiality that the project will culminate in meaningful social mobility. I describe how the construction of this project paradoxically accelerated the use of eviction and expulsion of marginalized Roma from other places in the city. One chapter connects these impulses to control Eastern European Roma to a longer genealogy of bureaucratic efforts of the French state to both recognize and accommodate the rights of French Gens du Voyage—Travelling people who identify as Romani and are French citizens—to uphold a mobile way of life while simultaneously limiting and spatially bracketing its expression. The attempts to confine, control, and expel Roma and Gens du Voyage in contemporary France bear a chilling resemblance to those that contributed to the Nazi extermination of the Roma during the Second World War. One chapter focuses on Roma memories and commemorations of their genocide in the 1940s, particularly among urban Roma activists. My analysis shows that the exceptional “suspension” of the EU citizenship rights for the Roma continues to be transformed into more enduring spatial and legal technologies of governance of “undesirable” Roma. This dissertation shows that larger debates about the place of the Roma in France, and about racialized migrants in Europe more generally, are being played out spatially through localized battles over housing, mobility, and other basic rights.

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