Critiquing stereotypes: Research engagement with UK local authority supporting Roma migrants
The Council of Europe definition of anti-Gypsyism focuses on the role of stereotypes and violent practices in the exclusion of the Roma. Research has shown that authorities have a tendency to embrace anti-Gypsyist attitudes and to implement overtly securitising policies that further entrench the exclusion of the Roma. Research has also shown that, besides established stereotypes, new ones are emerging. Drawing on our experience as observing participants in the development and implementation of Manchester City Council’s Roma Strategy, we will show how the strategy was aimed to prevent violent anti-Gypsyism, but how stereotypes nonetheless infiltrated its implementation and, finally, how the mobilisation of the Roma successfully challenged these stereotypes. The paper argues that current definitions of anti-Gypsyism are unable to capture instances of essentialist and pathologising discourses that inform interventions aiming at Roma inclusion but which may in fact perpetuate their marginalisation. The paper therefore challenges the notion that stereotypes only inform exclusionary or securitising interventions. The paper will show how academic research can be mobilised to dismiss stereotypes and to inspire the Roma to take action and challenge benevolent but nonetheless stereotyping interventions.
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