From Victimhood to Citizenship
The disappointing results of over two decades of activism in the supposedly more liberal climate of post- Communist democracies prompted András Bíró, Hungarian journalist and renowned human rights activist to put down his reflections about the situation of Roma in Eastern Europe. These thoughts in turn stimulated insightful responses from two scholars of the subject: Nicolae Gheorghe, an ethnic Roma living in Romania, and Martin Kovats, among others special advisor on Roma issues to the European Commission in Brussels.
These authors do not shrink from expressing forthright views, as in discussing the apparent conflict between certain human rights values and what some regard as ‘traditional’ Roma culture and in exploring difficulties and ambiguities implicit in using the term ‘Roma’. The respective merits of ethnically based Roma political parties as opposed to a civic approach are also examined.
The three essays challenged other stakeholders who discussed the burning issues raised therein at a workshop, the distilled text of which constitutes the fourth chapter of the book. While no straightforward solutions are offered the pre-eminence of the main contributors and the lively ensuing conference arguments guarantee that this book will become a touchstone for future debate in a time when pro-Roma policies are facing ever-growing threats amidst the crisis in Europe.
I. The price of Roma integration
II. Choices to be made and prices to be paid: potential roles and consequences in Roma activism and policy-making
III. Integration and the politicisation of Roma identity
IV. Workshop debates
1. The aim of the workshop
2. Demos or ethnos
3. Traditional versus modern
4. Gender issues
5. Citizenship for Roma: combating discrimination
6. Relations with the mainstream
8. Europe's crisis, Roma migration
9. What now? Taking the project further
V. Values, leadership, power
Contributors to the debate