Antiziganism: Interpretative tools and contemporary phenomenology

  • Sabrina Tosi Cambini University of Verona, Italy


The article is divided into three parts. The first concerns the concept of Anti-Gypsyism; the second, the stereotypes and the research conducted by the author on the alleged kidnapping by Roma; concludes with a discussion about the link between Anti-Gypsyism, power and urban space. Anti-Gypsyism is a distinct type of racist ideology. It is, at the same time, similar, different, and intertwined with many other types of racism. Anti- Gypsyism is used to justify and perpetrate the exclusion and supposed inferiority of Roma and is based on historical persecution and negative stereotypes (see also V. Nicolae 2006). According to Herzfeld (1997) stereotypes can be used for trade or in situations of conflict in which questions of identity are played out. Individuals and social groups appropriate these collective imaginations and use them to reify their sense of collective self. The analysis of cases of alleged kidnapping clearly shows the “baby-stealing Gypsies” stereotype in action and exemplar in action and how it produces effects of reality. Drawing on an ethnographic study on the cases of alleged kidnapping of non-Romani children by Roma and Sinti adults in Italy, the research demonstrates how negative stereotyping which construct the Roma as dangerous nomadic people, foreigners from whom society must be protected, can affect their treatment by prosecutors, lawyers and judges in the Italian judicial system. The conflation of Romani identity with nomadic lifestyle features widely in Italian public discourse on the Roma and, as it has been validly pointed out in scholarly debate (Piasere 1991; Brunello 1996; Sigona 2002), has gone some way towards building differential treatment towards Romani groups in particular in relation to housing policies and the spread of ‘nomad camps’ (Sigona 2005).

How to Cite
Tosi Cambini, S. (2015) “Antiziganism: Interpretative tools and contemporary phenomenology”, Anuac, 1(1), pp. 17-23. doi: 10.7340/anuac2239-625X-7.