Creating Exceptions to the Law: Discourses on the Eviction and Repatriations of Roma Migrants at National and European Union Level with Dragoş Ciulinaru

The event is part of the seminar series Migration in a Global Perspective and will take place on May 9th, Room 102, Faculty of Sociology and Social Assistance, Panduri Campus, Panduri 90, at 17:00.

 This presentation examines the ways and processes of creating exception to the law in the case of Roma migrants in the EU. It uses as case study the 2010 campaign of Roma migrants’ evictions and repatriations from France, and the related events that followed over a period of six years. The analysis of the discourses of French and European Union officials in relation to the evictions and repatriations highlights the relationships between discursive construction of the unwanted categories of migrants and migration policy making by national governments and at European Union level. The main argument is that, though regarded as a migration issue under EU law, these repatriations are primarily a fundamental rights issue due to the discriminatory dimension it was given by those proposing and applying it. However, the issue of discrimination became secondary in the debates that emphasized the exceptional nature of the Roma and framed this population as an exception from human rights law enforcement. Concomitantly, the discourses made a shift from protection against discrimination to the issue of integration, and the presentation examines the implications this shift had on diminishing the responsibility of national and EU authorities for protection against discrimination. The integration provisions, as well as the resolution of the 2010 expulsions campaign and the later evolutions, attempt to make sure that this less desired category of EU citizens uses less their right of free movement. “Integration” is a less controversial path for making it less likely that these European citizens do not leave their countries of origin, or if they will leave it after the alleged integration they will leave it as ‘good citizens’. The disappearance of discrimination from the discourses on the Roma migrants passed responsibility onto the Roma migrants themselves, in this way making the collective evictions and expulsions to appear justified against those who are perceived as “bad citizens”. Thus, the presentation shows that, in the case of Roma, moving to another EU country is not perceived as free movement, but rather as nomadism. The free movement is not a natural way of moving across borders of legitimate EU citizens – it implies a socially and cultural accepted view on movement. Because Roma’s sort of movement does not fit the cultural and social criteria of the legitimate community of EU citizens, the claim to have one´s rights protected is not perceived as legitimate either.

Short bio: Dragoş Ciulinaru is a Ph.D. student under the coordination of Professor Adrian Paul Iliescu at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Philosophy. He holds a Master degree in Social Science from the University of Helsinki and a Bachelors of Law. The current research is focusing on the enforcement of human rights law in the case of migrants, as part of a wider preoccupation for the cultural relativity of human rights. In November 2015, he was a guest researcher at the Center for Migration Law, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

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