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Dwelling on Substandard Housing: A multi-site contextualisation of housing deprivation among Romanian Roma
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8287-2213
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Description
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores the housing situation of Romanian Roma in recent times. Many Romanian Roma are relegated to inadequate living condi­tions, and this thesis seeks to further our knowledge of the spaces this group inhabits. This is done by focusing on postsocialist urban segrega­tion, institutional intervention inertia, and local efforts made and strate­gies deployed by Roma to appropriate decent living conditions.

Paper I examines the postsocialist relegation of poor Bucharesters to the impoverished southern parts of Ferentari, a neighbourhood in Roma­nia’s capital. The paper proposes a theoretical understanding of Roma­nia’s postsocialist production of urban space by drawing on the housing trajectories of residents of various housing types, ranging from small apartments to newly built slums.

Paper II brings the perspective of Bucharest’s local officials to the fore, analysing institutional dynamics and policymaking in Bucharest’s poorest administrative division, where Ferentari is situated. In this article, political inertia is highlighted as comprising a problematic pairing of political disregard of welfare provision and racialised understandings of Ferentari’s citizens. As a result, no concrete and rigorous efforts are made to address the neighbourhood’s obvious problems.

Paper III examines the narratives of Romanian Roma who travel to Sweden to earn more income, but where they are also exposed to an un­welcoming context and homelessness. The study helps clarify how certain groups in Europe can be both homeowners and homeless at the same time. This article disputes the assumption that homeownership is a more stable tenure form than for example decommodified rental housing.

Paper IV examines two different and highly mobile housing and earn­ing strategies of two related Boyash-Roma communities in two countries: Argentina and Romania. The Argentine case concerns Romanian-speak­ing Roma involved in street-vending throughout Argentina. The Roma­nian case concerns Rudari from Vâlcea County, who travel to Sweden primarily to beg. The cases illustrate how two groups have managed to improve their housing condi­tions in post-crisis and xenophobic contexts.

In combination, this multi-site research advances our understand­ing of the problems Roma face in finding adequate housing. Although continuously marginalised and excluded, Roma still find ways to cope with their situation and even improve their housing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Social and Economic Geography , 2019. , p. 123
Series
Geographica, ISSN 0431-2023 ; 26
Keywords [en]
Roma, Romania, Racialisation, Postsocialism, Housing, Community-led strategies
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-390618ISBN: 978-91-506-2783-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-390618DiVA, id: diva2:1342145
Public defence
2019-09-27, Sal IX, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-09-06 Created: 2019-08-12 Last updated: 2019-09-06
List of papers
1. The Modern Mahala: Making and Living in Romania’s Postsocialist Slum
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Modern Mahala: Making and Living in Romania’s Postsocialist Slum
2018 (English)In: Eurasian geography and economics, ISSN 1538-7216, E-ISSN 1938-2863, Vol. 59, no 3-4, p. 436-461Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Almost 30 years have passed since state-socialism came to an end and several scholars sought to establish how the Romanian housing market has unfolded within a changing economic context and a strongly altered welfare system. This paper considers the most disadvantaged postsocialist groups in Romanian society and aims to advance our understanding of the housing situation in newly concentrated poor urban spaces. In developing such analysis, this article draws on local insights from Ferentari, a neighborhood in Bucharest where most residents I spoke saw a gradual degradation of their dwelling and living environment and do not expect any improvement soon. Not surprisingly, a strong indifference towards present-day politics and a potentially better and more inclusive space has colonized most minds. By studying their housing conditions and socioeconomic situation this article aims to illuminate the sudden emergence and diverse character of Romania’s underprivileged neighborhoods: the modern mahalas.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2018
Keywords
postsocialist city, Bucharest, segregation, mahala, homeownership, tenure insecurity
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-372127 (URN)10.1080/15387216.2019.1574433 (DOI)000461436600006 ()
Available from: 2019-01-06 Created: 2019-01-06 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved
2. Racialised postsocialist governance in Romania’s Urban Margins: housing and local policymaking in Ferentari, Bucharest
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Racialised postsocialist governance in Romania’s Urban Margins: housing and local policymaking in Ferentari, Bucharest
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-390223 (URN)
Note

Postsocialist urban development is partially characterised by housing deterioration and the perpetual overrepresentation of Romanian Roma in substandard dwellings. These phenomena are particularly noticeable in the margins of larger Romanian cities. Many poor Romanians found, in urban peripheries, a last resort during a period of economic crisis and housing shortages. In the meantime, public policy and urban planning have focused on maintaining “collective order” and accommodating the wishes of the “decently” housed residents of the city. This is certainly the case in Bucharest, where squatters and homeless people have been expelled from central districts and where the same privileged districts receive substantially more attention. This collective order is apparently deemed more important than the needs of marginalised groups in Romanian society. This article examines how urban marginality is addressed at the municipal level and how “parsimonious” public intervention in poor residential areas is justified. In doing so, I highlight the roles of postsocialist devolution, inadequate use of EU and national funds, and reviving racialisation in reproducing housing poverty.

Available from: 2019-08-07 Created: 2019-08-07 Last updated: 2019-08-12
3. Roma beggars in Uppsala: racialised poverty and fallacious homeownership in Romania and Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Roma beggars in Uppsala: racialised poverty and fallacious homeownership in Romania and Sweden
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Trying to trace a continuous link in time and space, and from a qualitative ethnographic and multi-sited approach to housing and racialised poverty, we analyse the narratives of fifteen Romanian Roma begging outside stores in Uppsala’s inner-city district. The narratives from Uppsala reveal precarious living and housing conditions in Romania. Beggars come to Sweden for more income, but there they are also exposed to homelessness, harsh weather conditions, racism and discrimination. Using a combination of political economy approach for the analysis of housing, with a postcolonial approach to migratory patterns of the racialised and impoverished Roma in Europe/Sweden, we reflect on two main topics: Firstly, while beggars are homeless in Uppsala, paradoxically they are often homeowners in Romania, although their housing conditions are precarious in both places. Secondly, we discuss the relationship between racialisation and the precarious living and housing conditions observed among the Romanian Roma. Grounding our analysis in the empirical material we argue that the very idea of homeownership as a good investment and a more convenient form of tenure than rental housing must be especially disputed in this context. We therefore propose the term fallacious homeownership, to characterise the precariousness of life among these poor and racialised homeowners. This article merges the interests of urban and housing researchers with those from the postcolonial tradition.

Keywords
Roma, fallacious homeownership, racialised poverty, Uppsala, Romania
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-390227 (URN)
Available from: 2019-08-07 Created: 2019-08-07 Last updated: 2019-08-12
4. Homeownership, mobility, and home: a reflective housing study on Argentine Ludar and Romanian Rudari
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Homeownership, mobility, and home: a reflective housing study on Argentine Ludar and Romanian Rudari
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This article presents community-led housing practices of two related Boyash-Roma communities in two different countries: Argentina and Romania. The case of Argentina introduces the story of the Ludar in the Greater Buenos Aires Region (GBAR), a Romanian-speaking sub-group of the Roma, which most likely arrived between 1880 and 1900. The majority of the Ludar are throughout Argentina involved in street vending. The second case concerns the Roma communities of Rudari from Vâlcea County in Romania, which travel to Sweden primarily to beg. Although both cases seem unrelated they inform us how two groups manage to improve their housing conditions and realise a feeling of belonging within a post-crisis context in which racism is rampant, welfare provision largely dissolved, and mobility of people increasingly constrained. These radical coping strategies contribute to an emerging scholarship that studies local practices of Roma communities.

Keywords
racialisation, borderscapes, Roma, resistance, radical housing solutions
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-390226 (URN)
Available from: 2019-08-07 Created: 2019-08-07 Last updated: 2019-08-12

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