Zsuzsa [Abstract]

„They took personal data and some pictures, yet they found nothing for us” – misunderstanding and suspicion in a marginal Roma neighborhood from Romania [Full text]

Plainer Zsuzsa [1]

Abstract: This paper claimed to reveal, that mistrust during fieldwork is more than an unpleasant individual experience: it is a telling ethnographic data. Repudiation of Gallilei Street ghetto residents was equally due to a wrong research question and some external factors. Postsocialist industrial restructuration and residential policies brought – likewise everywhere in Eastern Europe – insecurity to the one-time privileged working-class. To go further, unemployment entailed changes in residential patterns and echoed new forms of exclusion. The better-off workers, Roman and non-Roma, could – at least partly – maintain their previous conditions, but many were pushed to the fringes of the social structure. In lack of capital they cannot stand in the process of privatization, lost their rented apartments and become evicted. Others, coming as a second wave to an old block, were facing uncertain situation with property rights; decaying conditions – initially a cause of avoided privatization later an effect of it – turned the green building into a “Gypsy ghetto”. And ghettoization did not only entail impoverishment, but created dependency to local institution, claiming to do good to the locals. Mismatch with school and NGO, being used by many, promising to help the Roma, green block inhabitants look suspiciously to anyone resembling with such helpers.

Keywords: Roma, suspicion, fieldwork, post-socialist impoverishment, urban ghettoes

[1] Romanian Institute for Researching National Minorities in Cluj-Napoca (ISPMN), Romania, plainerzsuzsa@gmail.com