This article examines the response of Roma activists to the Italian Roma crisis in 2007 and 2008. The Roma community has become targets of discriminatory policies in Italy, such as forced evictions and ethnic profiling by the authorities, which construct Roma as distinct from the Italian nation. Roma activists increasingly circumvent national political structures and instead regard the European Union (EU) as an ally in redressing discriminatory policies in member states. In the absence of a kin state to lobby and advocate on their behalf, Roma activists, working in the transnational political context, articulate their voice and demands to the institutions of the EU. In doing so, they construct a transnational identity which on the one hand reifies Roma to a homogeneous group, whilst on the other hand contributes to the idea that Roma are not a constitutive component of the dominant nation. This article uses the Italian Roma crisis as a particular episode in which transnational Roma activists responded to a nationally based crisis and explores the impact of this on issues of national belonging.
- European Union