The immigration of Romanian Roma to Western Europe: Causes, effects and future engagement strategies. 2013-2017.

Migrant Roma families facing ‘inclusion’? Cross ethnographies of two ‘integration and housing projects’ in French cities

Alexandra Clavé-Mercier & Martin Olivera

Bordeaux University and University of Paris 8

The exclusion of a growing number of Roma in Europe has been described as the result of measures implemented against Roma migrants living in precarious settlements in Western Europe. At the same time, international institutions, national authorities and many NGOs have implemented initiatives for “Roma inclusion”. These initiatives are often criticised for the “opacity of financing”, “lack of tangible results” and for their inability to solve the so-called “Roma issue”. Based on long-term ethnographic investigations in two French cities, this communication aims to highlight the contradictions and paradoxes characterising many “inclusion policies”. These projects seem frequently based on stereotypical conceptions of “Roma” and of “inclusion”, even when they mobilise the rhetoric of “participation” or “empowerment”. Interactions based on these stereotypes may lead to problematic relationships between migrant families and the public authorities and, from the latter’s point of view, to the “failure of inclusion”. We will also highlight the ways in which “target families” may nevertheless succeed in developing different forms of local insertion and ensure the legitimacy of their presence, using (or not using) resources provided by public policies as well as personal and family resources. We will finally address the role and value of informality and “productive misunderstandings” in these processes of effective integration taking place in a strongly binding context. From a broader perspective, we will discuss how such empirical research could help identifying possible ways of fighting contemporary anti-Gypsyism within social policies through a pragmatic and dynamic approach to social inclusion.