Publication Date

April 2006

Journal or Book Title

"Ethnic mobilization in the new Europe," Conference proceedings

Abstract

Contemporary political action for ethnic and national minorities in Europe appears to be increasingly directed towards supra- and transnational structures. This development seems indicative of the growth of a European space for minority activism – a public space that is less state-centered, that allows claims to be framed in terms of European standards and therefore facilitates the emergence of an active European citizenship. In theory, this “Europeanization” of minority politics may offer minority activists additional avenues for raising demands about cultural recognition and economic equalization. This article seeks to identify the possible implications of the Europeanization of minority politics by exploring the case of the Roma (Gypsies), an economically and socially marginalized minority that is increasingly conceptualized as transnational and “European.” Especially in the context of the enlargement of the European Union the Roma have received a lot of attention from European institutions. We focus our analysis on Hungary, a new EU member state with an active Romani movement. While one would expect the Europeanization of minority politics to have positively affected the ways in which Romani activists in Hungary organize and mobilize, our analysis of documentary sources and interviews reveals a more complex picture. We identify an ambiguous understanding of the Europeanization of minority politics among various actors in Hungary and historically shifting ideas about the significance of “Europe” in Romani mobilization.

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