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Romani mobility and governmentality in the EU. Reflections from the ethnographic case of Bosnian Xoraxané Xomá families

Marco Solimene

University of Iceland

The crisis triggered in the EU by the recent wave of migrants and refugees demonstrates that cross border movements are still perceived as a problem for state policy, national cohesion and racial consciousness. It also confirms that the governmentality of immigration is a crucial issue for a Europe whose multi-faceted identity is still under-construction. Juridico-political categories, such as “immigrant”, “clandestine” and “illegal alien”, thus detain a biopolitical character and subject migrants to a regime of illegality, deportability and detainability. These reflections resonate with the case of the European Roma, who are objects of both explicit and hidden criminalization and racialization, and construed as an economic, political and cosmological threat. The governmentality of the Roma represents thus another crucial issue in contemporary Europe. This paper explores the mobility of Bosnian Xoraxané Xomá families whose presence, social networks and activities extend from Rome (Italy) into other Italian and European cities. I will show that Romani mobility can be conceptualized as a dialectic relation between the worlds of the Gağé and of the Roma. I will relate Romani mobility with the forms of governmentality of which categories such as “Gypsies/Roma/Nomads”, “immigrants” and “illegal subjects” are vehicle and symbol. I will argue that Romani mobility signals the heightening of a regime of illegality, deportability and detain-ability that targets migrants and Roma. Yet, as the key to a dispersed and rhizomatic presence that taunts its allegedly illicit character, Romani mobility becomes an incontrovertible act of European citizenship.