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Conference: The Politics of Security - Understanding and Challenging the Securitization of Europe's Roma

When Jun 01, 2016 02:00 to
Jun 03, 2016 02:30
Where Hauptgebäude, Ludwigstrasse 23, Seminarraum 316, University of Giessen
Contact Name
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JUNE 1-3, 2016


Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Europe’s Romani minorities have gradually more become the political subjects of large-scale and Europe-wide development programs dedicated to their rights, inclusion, community building, human security, empowerment and to the improvement of their living circumstances generally. In particular since the late 1990s, European institutions, such as the European Union (EU), the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and international organizations, such as the World Bank and United Nations agencies, have increasingly focused on the position of Europe’s Roma and developed specific bodies, programs, policy instruments and funding opportunities with the aim to improve the situation of Roma throughout Europe, and in Central and Eastern Europe particularly.


At the same time, domestic Romani minorities and the Roma who have migrated from Central and Eastern Europe to Western (European) countries have become the target of measures, discourses and practices of security at a variety of institutional and societal levels, articulated by several actors, ranging from state bodies, international agencies, humanitarian, faith-based or social work organizations, political parties and extremist and populist groups to private security companies, the media and groups of “vigilant” citizens. Roma have been faced, for instance, with zero tolerance and eviction and deportation practices, as well as with other measures aimed at heightening their control and surveillance, including profiling, stop and search practices, walling, institutionalized child care, bans from public spaces, confiscation and demolition of their properties and police raids. Relatedly, throughout Europe, Roma have been confronted with diverse manifestations of Romaphobia and anti-Gypsyism, such as hate speech in the political arena and in public and social media, violent and even murderous attacks, and anti-Roma demonstrations and riots.


Faced with these pressures, hostilities and mechanisms of control and disciplining, Roma actors and their allies have designed and put into practice various resistance strategies and tactics, which aim at eluding, subverting and challenging security, development and the discourses and practices of controlling and disciplining, as well as the ambiguous or simply negative ways in which they have been portrayed in political, public and policy debates, as well as in media and visual cultures. 


Our international and multidisciplinary conference THE POLITICS OF SECURITY: UNDERSTANDING AND CHALLENGING THE SECURITIZATION OF EUROPE’S ROMA aims at reflecting upon the mechanisms through which and the consequences of how, in post-1989 Europe, the Roma have increasingly been problematized in terms of security. We will discuss and address this central question in four closely related contexts, corresponding to the main four panels of our conference:

1. Security and dominant/alternative regimes of visuality

In the currently prevailing problematization of the Roma in terms of development and security, the policy, political and media lenses are primarily trained on tracing the Roma somewhere on the thin and sterile line from those “at risk” to those who are “risky”. The correlated representations of Roma tend to rely strongly on highly limited ways of “seeing Roma” and on regimes of visuality that render them “hypervisible”. Can we imagine or trace the articulation of alternative regimes and forms of visuality that challenge or disrupt currently dominant ways of seeing and understanding the Roma in policymaking, political and public debates, and media and visual cultures?


2. Mobility and the nexus of freedom and security

Since the 1990s, the Roma have increasingly been faced with the securitization of their migrant and socioeconomic mobilities, most of all in the context of their westward migration in and beyond Europe and in that of profoundly changing welfare regimes throughout Europe, and in central and Eastern Europe particularly. How do we need to understand these securitizing processes and the regimes of deportability and evictability that have simultaneously emerged? How do these processes relate to concepts and practices of (un-)free movement in the context of the EU, and to practices and tactics that challenge contained and securitized mobilities?


3.        The merging of development and security

Over the last two decades, Europe’s Roma have increasingly become the political subjects of both development and security. What, in the current commitment with and treatment of Europe’s Roma, are the effects of the merging of discourses and practices of development and security? What are the consequences of this merging for their recognition as “citizens” and members of Europe’s political communities, particularly vis-à-vis the institutionalized promises of their inclusion and European citizenship? What is the impact of the merging of development and security on the relevance of the multifold local, national and international programs that have been developed with the official aim of improving the situation of the Roma? What is the impact of practices of humanitarianism, in which often far-reaching “(il)liberal” interventions in the daily and communal lives of Roma are legitimized on the basis of humanitarian reasoning, on the opportunities, ambiguities and limits of developmental programs? To what extent have the Roma been able to appropriate such programs in order to try to challenge them and their underlying logics?


4. The marketization of security

The problematization of the Roma in terms of threats and the proliferation of Roma-related security measures have closely gone together with the emergence of a politics of fear and insecurity in Europe. How do the proliferation of such security measures and the commodification of security relate to the post-1989 transformation of states and civil societies; to changes in the media and their infrastructures; to neoliberal reforms in the sphere of welfare, housing, health care and employment; to the emergence of private security companies and to the maintenance and reinforcement of a politics of fear and insecurity regarding the Roma? What kinds of counter-strategies have been developed to challenge the ‘marketization’ of security?








DAY 1: Wednesday June 1, 2016

Venue: Hauptgebäude, Ludwigstrasse 23, Seminarraum 316, University of Giessen



Registration, coffee & tea
















Chair: Huub van Baar (University of Giessen/University of Amsterdam) 

 “Security, visuality and practices of encampment: Romani histories of the city” Ethel Brooks (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ)

 “Antigypsyism in German police press releases”

Markus End (Independent scholar & Gesellschaft für Antiziganismusforschung,  Marburg)

 “Sharing the insecure sensible: the circulation of images of Roma on social media” Ana Ivasiuc (University of Giessen)

Discussant: t.b.a.







Coffee & tea break









Chair: Regina Kreide (University of Giessen)





Dotschy Reinhardt (singer, writer)

Moritz Pankok (director of Gallery Kai Dikhas, Berlin)

Kenan Emini (Roma Center Göttingen, Network Alle bleiben)








Conference dinner (for guests only)








DAY 2: Thursday June 2, 2016

Venue: Hauptgebäude, Ludwigstrasse 23, Senatssaal, University of Giessen









Chair: Ana Ivasiuc (University of Giessen)  

“The securitization of Roma mobilities and the re-bordering of Europe” Nicholas De Genova (King’s College London)

“Synchronizing states and disruptive mobilities: Searching for legible subjects, producing everyday insecurities between Slovakia and Great Britain” Jan Grill (University of Manchester/Universidad del Valle)

 “The interference between securitization policies and the practices of Roma migrants in precarious situation in France”

Olivier Legros & Marion Lievre (University of Tours)

Discussant: Zsuzsanna Vidra (Central European University Budapest)






lunch break: Chinese buffet






Chair: Regina Kreide (University of Giessen) 

“Structural oppression of Roma and the development industry”

Angéla Kóczé (Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC)






“Voluntary return of Romani migrants: Humanitarian logic supporting securitization  technologies in Spain”

Ioana Vrabiescu (Roma Initiative Office Fellowship, Foundation Open Society Institute)

“From ‘lagging behind’ to ‘being beneath’? The de-developmentalization of time and  social order in contemporary Europe”

Huub van Baar (University of Giessen/University of Amsterdam)

Discussant: Ulderico Daniele (Rome Tre University) 




Coffee & tea break





A documentary by Stefano Liberti & Enrico Parenti

Chair: Ana Ivasiuc (University of Giessen) 

Discussion with Emil Julien Costache (former Roma mediator in Rome, Italy)








DAY 3: Friday June 3, 2016

Venue: Hauptgebäude, Ludwigstrasse 23, Senatssaal, University of Giessen



Chair: Huub van Baar (University of Giessen/University of Amsterdam)

 “Security + capital = ?”

Mark Neocleous (Brunel University London)

 “Roma popular culture in an age of securitization: a move from ‘other’ to ‘enemy’” Annabel Tremlett (University of Portsmouth)

 “The space and crime continuum: Security and gentrification in the case of the Roma  people of Cluj, Romania”

Manuel Mireanu (autonomous researcher, Romania)

Discussant: Ryan Powell (Sheffield Hallam University)












Coffee & tea - End of the conference



Conference Organization


This conference is organized by the research group Between Minority Protection and Securitization: Roma Minority Formation in Modern European History at the Justus Liebig

University Giessen in Germany. Our research group includes Regina Kreide, Huub van Baar,

Ana Ivasiuc and Yasmin Feltz. Our project is part of the research project Dynamics of Security: Forms of Securitization in Historical Perspective, which is an interdisciplinary research collaboration between the universities of Giessen and Marburg, Germany, and which is funded by the German Research Council (DFG) for the period 2014-2017 (SFB/TRR 138). 


Attendance, Registration and Contact details


Those who are interested in attending the conference or a part of its program are kindly invited to contact us. Registration is required; please send an e-mail to Yasmin Feltz to register for the event (). Attendance of the conference is free but, unfortunately, we are not able to cover travel and accommodation expenses.