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A Critical Look at Europe’s Policy on Roma (Gypsies)

Seminar Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Yaron Matras

Yaron Matras

Professor of Linguistics, University of Manchester

Editor, Journal Romani Studies

The extension of the European Union and the freedom of population movement within it has brought the status of Europe’s Romani minority to the attention of political institutions. Efforts have been underway to tackle discrimination and support social inclusion of Roma since the early 1990s, and in 2011 the EU launched an integrated framework for Roma inclusion. However, there is widespread agreement that little has changed on the ground. I take issue with two central pillars of the policy — first, the abandonment of efforts to re-conceptualise the prevailing traditional notions and images of "Gypsies" when addressing the Roma, and consequently the failure to identify ideology as a principle obstacle to inclusion. And second, the emphasis on "mediation" structures, which pitch the relations between Roma and public institutions as a kind of conflict zone, suggest that Roma culture rather than exclusion is responsible for disengagement, and provide financial incentives for external interventions to engage in self-serving projects that treat Roma as "needy subjects."


Yaron Matras is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Manchester and editor of the journal Romani Studies. His involvement with Romani issues began in the advocacy and civil rights arena. Matras was media relations officer to the Roma National Congress from 1988 -1995, and founding editor of RomNews, one of the very first advocacy information services on Romani issues. He has worked closely with the Open Society Institute's Roma programs, is a founding member of the European Academic Network on Romani Studies and has led several large-scale research projects on Romani language and culture, including an international research consortium on Romani migrations. He is the author of more than a dozen books and numerous chapters and articles on Romani language and culture, and speaks the Romani language fluently.

Assigned Reading

Yaron Matras, The Romani Gypsies (Harvard University Press, 2015)


A reception will be held at 5:00 pm at the UNE Art Gallery


Center for Global Humanities


(207) 221-4435

gypsy poster
6:00 PM
WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion

Portland Campus

Free and open to the public