Romanian Roma at home: Mobility patterns, migration experiences, networks and remittances
László Fosztó, Stefánia Toma & Cătălina Tesăr
Romanian Institute For Research On National Minorities
This presentation focuses on the local impact of Roma migration on selected ethnically mixed communities in Romania. It draws on research carried out in five urban and rural localities from Central and South-East Romania with different scales of risk of poverty and social development. Data is derived from quantitative and qualitative fieldwork carried out among Roma and their non-Roma neighbours, as well as from interviews with local authorities and institutions. We show that most migrant Roma live a transnational existence. Their migration is not ‘completed’, they maintain connections with their relatives and friends in the locality of origin, creating a continuous flow of people, goods, and knowledge between the different places of migration and back home. Migration offers potential for upward social mobility for the Roma families involved, who either move out of ethically segregated communities or enhance their social, economic or cultural status. This is often achieved by keeping the costs of living rather low in the migration context and not investing in the improvement of living conditions there. The weakness/ineffectiveness of state institutions and local authorities forces Roma to rely on non-state institutions, self-organisation and self-management. Self-reliance ensues in the hardening of identities and in the using of local, social and ethnic identities as important markers for social divisions, distancing and resource hoarding. This process combined with the changing status and upward social mobility of some of the groups creates transformed conditions and potentially contributes to the changing local ethnic relations.