RE-ENVISIONING SOCIAL JUSTICE FROM THE GROUND UP: INCLUDING THE EXPERIENCES OF ROMANI WOMEN
By Alexandra Oprea
© Alexandra Oprea, July 2004, all rights reserved. Originally published in the Essex Human Rights Review (EHRR) Vol. 1 No. 1., p. 29-39. The article is available in pdf format from the Directory of Open Source Journals .
This paper centres on the exclusion of Romani women from mainstream feminist and antiracist discourses in Europe. This exclusion is explained through the lens of intersectionalism and problematic identity politics. It discusses their invisibility as perpetuated by programmes and reports from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It explains the absence of Romani women from Romani and feminist discourses, the uncritical view of Romani culture, and the vulnerability of Romanian Romani women to domestic violence. It emphasizes that analyses of social problems must be performed from the bottom up, looking at the experiences of those who are multi-burdened, such as poor Romani women. The paper concludes by discussing the value of recognizing privilege as the foundation for inclusive scholarship and discourse.
In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Esmeralda is a voluptuous Gypsy temptress whose beauty, dance, and charm make her the fantasy of every European man.(1) A far cry from Victor Hugo’s exotic Gypsy seductress, for the past decade Romani women have been struggling to regain their dignity in the face of multi-faceted oppression, some of which comes in the form of the aforementioned example of racialized objectification, others in the form of the systematic denial of basic rights. Staging this lonely battle means resisting the interlocking systems of racism, sexism, and poverty as well as the political discourses that perpetuate them.