30 Jan 2013: CEES Seminar

Published: 13 September 2012

Dr Jan Grill: 'Struggles for movement, new forms of disconnect. Roma migrations from Central Eastern Europe to Great Britain'

Struggles for movement, new forms of disconnect. Roma migrations from Central Eastern Europe to Great Britain

Dr Jan Grill (University of Manchester)

5.30pm (tea and coffee from 5pm), Central and East European Studies Seminar Room, 8-9 Lilybank Gardens


Based on a long-term anthropological fieldwork among one network of Roma/Gypsy migrants from Slovakia, this paper explores their struggles for viability on migratory pathways in urban areas of Great Britain. Following the accession of new member states to EU in 2004, many Slovakian Roma migrated to Britain in search of a better life. The paper starts by ethnographically unpacking what does this striving for betterment mean, how is it imagined and what the key tropes through which Roma experience these movements are. I show how migration to Britain crystallised as one possible avenue for socio-economic and existential mobility among Roma living in conditions of growing inequalities, unemployment and poverty in eastern Slovakia. By analysing social trajectories of migrants the paper shows how unequally distributed social connections and other forms of capital translate differentially into degrees of success and failures in migration. The paper illustrates how recent Roma migrations re-configured some of the established hierarchies, inequalities and dependencies embedded within the conditions of marginality, but how the migration dynamics simultaneously accentuated new forms of disconnect and abject among those who do not migrate or those who return from their migrations more impoverished. The talk also reflects on the uncritical assumptions often made in relation to Roma/Gypsy migrations to Western Europe.

All welcome.

The CEES West Coast Seminar Series is supported by the MacFie Bequest, named after Professor Alec MacFie, Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at the University from 1945 to 1958. 

Enquiries: Ammon.Cheskin@glasgow.ac.uk, +44 (0)141 330 2845/5585

First published: 13 September 2012