Living beyond the Pale

Environmental Justice and the Roma Minority
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$27.95 / €26.95 / £22.95
Paperback is forthcoming in September 2023
Part of series: 
Publication date: 
256 pages

We find Roma settlements on the outskirts of villages, separated from the majority population by roads, railways or other barriers, disconnected from water pipelines and sewage treatment. Why are some people (or groups) better off than others when it comes to the distribution of environmental benefits? In order to understand the present situation and identify ways to address the impacts of these inequalities we must understand the past and mechanisms related to the differentiated treatment. The situation and discrimination of the Roma ethnic minority in Slovakia is examined from the perspective of environmental conditions and injustice. There is no simple answer as to why there is environmental injustice. Environmental conditions in Roma settlements are just one of the indicators of failures of policies addressing the problem of poverty and social exclusion in marginalized groups, structural discrimination, and internal Roma problems. Environmental injustice is not an outcome of the “historical determination” of the Roma population to live in environmentally problematic places.

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
List of Tables
List of Figures

Chapter One. Environmental Poverty and the Roma
Points of Departure
Setting of the Story

Part I
Chapter Two. Environmental Justice and Entitlements
Distribution and Procedures
What Can We Learn from the Justice Struggles?
Central and Eastern Europe
Entitlements: Resources and Control

Chapter Three. The Roma of Slovakia
The Past and the Present
New Regime and Old Tricks
Villages and Shantytowns
Situation and Trends

Chapter Four. Rudňany: A Tale of the Old Liabilities
The Village and the People
The Roma in Rudňany
A Story of Contaminated Land
Roma Coping Strategies
Entitlements and Resources
People and the Power
Roma and the Environment
Environmental Injustice

Part II
Chapter Five. The Svinka River: People, Water and the Environment
People, Housing and Segregation
A Tale of Water
Environment and Coping Strategies
Land, Entitlements and Environmental Justice

Chapter Six. A Regional Snapshot Overview
Exposure to Toxic and Waste
Access to Water and Sanitation
Exposure to Flood
The Land: Access and Entitlements
Risks and the People

Chapter Seven. Patterns of Environmental (In)justice
Pattern 1: Exposure to Hazardous Waste and Chemicals
Pattern 2: Vulnerability to Floods
Pattern 3: Differentiated Access to Potable Water
Pattern 4: Discriminatory Waste Management Practice
The Patterns and the Impacts

Chapter Eight. Roma? Not in My Backyard
Economic Interests
Spatial Distance and “Not in My Backyard” Syndrome
Changes in Local Economy
“Beyond the Pale” Construction
Symbolic, Cultural, and Social Capital
Competition and Conflicts

Chapter Nine. Trends and Reverting the Trends
Doom Scenario: From Competition to Conflict
Optimistic Scenario: From Competition to Cooperation
Short-term Measures: The Key Challenge of Housing
Long-term Opportunities: What is Environmental is Also Economic and Social
Green Employment
From Entitlements and Involvement into Development
Planning, Struggling, and Stakeholders

Living beyond the Pale? Challenges and Conclusions

Annex 1. Shifts in Approaches

"Filčák has written a compelling account of the environmental plight of a social class in Slovakia commonly referred to as Roma. Primarily applying literature from the US and the UK, the author argues that the Roma have been relegated to the margins of society not by their own choice, and are subjected to undesirable environmental conditions, such as the rampant pollution surrounding their shantytowns. This class situation is difficult to overcome for a variety of reasons, but Filčák takes a most welcome yet unconventional approach by an academic, offering suggestions for ameliorating and/or remedying this situation, at least at the governmental level. While this is a particular case study of a particular social class in a particular country, it has broad appeal for those interested in both environmental and social justice issues. Summing up: Recommended".
"The Roma in eastern and central Europe have faced a plethora of economic, social, and political challenges since the collapse of communism in 1989. Across an expanded European Union, many Roma encounter increasing unemployment, segregation, and discrimination. While several notable authors have addressed the marginalization and impoverishment of the Roma, few have delved into the environmental injustices aff ecting them. In this book, Richard Filčák expertly adds another layer to the discussion of the Roma’s worsening welfare by examining the environmental hazards threatening Romani communities in eastern Slovakia. In detailing an inequitable eastern Slovakia, Filčák lays out two possible pathways. The fi rst allows for an amelioration of the current plight of many Roma, through poverty relief and environmental management programs. The second envisions a deepened exclusion of Roma, leading to increased confl ict over resources and a worsening distribution of environmental harm... more