[MaFLa] reminder: invitation to a talk on`The Roma group: issues of normative definition`by Magali Bessone Tuesday, 28 February, 5.30 PM, Monument building Popper room (1st floor/102)

Krisztina Biber Biberk at ceu.hu
Mon Feb 27 09:08:39 CET 2012


The CEU Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to a talk
(as part of its Departmental Colloquium series)
by
Magali Bessone (University of Rennes)
on
`The Roma group: issues of normative definition`

Tuesday, 28 February, 5.30 PM, 
PLEASE NOTE LOCATION: Monument building Popper room 
(9. Nádor str. 1st floor/102)

ABSTRACT
In the 2000’s, a “Roma question” seems to have emerged at the European
level, linked to the specific type of exclusion and discrimination that
the Roma population is supposed to endure not only in new, but also in
old, EU democracies. Specific European directives or recommendations
target the Roma minority, commonly considered as the biggest European
minority (around 12 million people). But if the Roma question seems
obvious and pressing, the “Roma” category is far from clear: if the Roma
minority is indeed a minority, what are the relevant criteria? Is it
ethnic, national, cultural, linguistic, racialized, etc.? 
The answer to that question matters from an ontological and from a
normative points of view. First, from an ontological point of view, the
question becomes, who is the Roma group? That is: what type of category
is “Roma” and what is the referent for the category in folk and/or
scientific uses of the term? The answer to that question is fundamental
for two reasons: first, because it may lead us to considering new ways
of conceptualizing a distinctive “political” category. Our hypothesis is
that the Roma category is best understood outside of the classical
bipartition proposed by W. Kymlicka in a liberal multicultural
perspective (Multicultural Citizenship), which is largely the frame of
thought adopted by European officials. The Roma minority is neither a
national nor an ethnic minority. The Roma situation escapes the proposed
dichotomy, which is implicitly territorially based. The Frame Statute of
the Romani nation, designed by some Romani representatives in 2001,
points us towards a new tentative approach: the Roma category could be
grasped, in a distinctively constructionist perspective, as referring to
a political national group based on a culture of solidarity with all
vulnerable nations (P. Pettit, Republicanism), without a compact
territory and without a distinct homogenous given culture.
Second, the answer to the ontological question matters because it
specifies the answer to the normative one, which becomes: should we get
rid of the Roma category because it is an artificial creation of
neo-liberal managerial European institutions, or should we keep it
because it is the visible part of an important movement of collective
identification and mobilization against arbitrary domination? Indeed,
from the status of a group ensues the type of rights or exemptions the
group can legitimately demand (in the case of minorities, from various
poly-ethnic rights to the right of self-determination): what type of
right is legitimate for the Roma group as defined in the first section?
More fundamentally, recognizing the political legitimacy of the Roma
group could lead us to renew our territorially-based notion of nation or
state. A whole new scale of justice could be suggested, at least at the
European level, by redefining the basic characteristics of the equal
partners (Member States) entitled to enter the deliberative process of
democratic decision- and norm-making. By contrast with (individualist)
cosmopolitan thinkers, such as T. Pogge or R. Beitz, we do not claim
that political standing should be disembedded from national status,
since national borders fix arbitrary limits to political legitimacy.
Rather, we argue that political standing should be attributed to
nations, understood as non territorially-based political collective
agents. The Roma case is a unique opportunity to question the implicit
theoretical assumptions of our political Europe.
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