Between Self-Determination and ‘Collective-Identity Closure’

  • Riccardo Armillei
Part of the Mapping Global Racisms book series (MGR)


This chapter provides a new perspective on the Romani issue by arguing that the ‘camp’ should be seen not only as a tool for institutional control and segregation, and an incubator of criminal activity, violence and poverty, but also as a space whose products include self-ghettoisation, collective-identity closure and resistance, the contestation of power and expression of agency. The meeting of state and ‘camp dwellers’ has not actually produced a definite seat of power and a passive subject, respectively. Most writing on the topic emphasises the superior power of the State and its sub-contracted CSOs, which in effect exercise sovereignty over the population and civic status of the ‘Romanies of the camps’. However, this addresses only one aspect of the power relationship. The ‘Romanies of the camps’ and their ‘Gadje’ antagonists are not presented as part of a ‘powerful’/’powerless’ dichotomy, where actors are fixed and polarised in restrictive categories. Although relations between the State, the CSOs and the Romani residents are shaped by an unequal struggle, the opposition between ‘rulers’ and ‘ruled’ gives rise to a cycle of power and resistance.


  1. Armillei, R. (2016). Reflections on Italy’s contemporary approaches to cultural diversity: The exclusion of the ‘Other’ from a supposed notion of ‘Italianness’. Australia New Zealand Journal of European Studies, 8(2), 34–48.Google Scholar
  2. Armillei, R. (2017a). The ‘Piano Nomadi’ and its pyramidal governance: The hidden mechanism underlying the ‘camps system’ in Rome. Romani Studies, 27(1), 47–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Armillei, R. (2017b). The Romani ‘camp-dwellers’ in Rome: Between state control and ‘collective-identity closure’. In C. Agius & D. Keep (Eds.), Identity making, displacement and rupture: Performing discourses of belonging, being and place (pp. 107–122). Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Asséo, H. (1989). Pour une histoire des peuples-Résistances [For a history of resistance-peoples]. In P. Williams (Ed.), Tsiganes: identité, évolution (pp. 121–127). Paris: Syros.Google Scholar
  5. Associazione 21 Luglio. (2012a). Anime Smarrite. Il piano degli sgomberi a Roma: Storie quotidiane di segregazione abitativa e di malessere [Lost souls. The evictions plan in Rome: Ordinary stories of housing segregation and sickness]. Retrieved from
  6. Associazione 21 Luglio. (2012b). Lavoro Sporco: Il Comune di Roma, i rom e le ‘borse-lavoro’ [Dirty job: The Municipality of Rome, the Romani people and the ‘paid traineeships’]. Retrieved from /Report/lavorosporco.pdf
  7. Associazione Thèm Romanó. (2010). Un evento da non sottovalutare [An event which is not to be underestimated]. Retrieved from
  8. Barany, Z. (1998). Ethnic mobilization and the state: The Roma in Eastern Europe. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21(2), 308–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barnes, A. (2003). Gypsy law: Romani legal traditions and culture. Marquette Law Review, 86(4), 823–844.Google Scholar
  10. Benedetto, I. (2011). Le minoranze Rom e Sinte: Alla ricerca di uno status giuridico [Roma and Sinti minorities: The pursuit of legal status]. Doctoral dissertation. Retrieved from
  11. Bisbiglia, V. (2017, May 31). Roma, tra tensioni, roghi ed esempi virtuosi [Rome, between tensions, blazes and best practices]. Il Fatto Quotidiano. Retrieved from
  12. Boscoboinik, A. (2009). Challenging borders and constructing boundaries: An analysis of Roma political processes. In V. Ciubrinskas & R. Sliuzinskas (Eds.), Identity politics: Histories, regions and borderlands (pp. 181–193). Klaipeda: Klaipeda University.Google Scholar
  13. Calabrò, A. R. (2008). Zingari: Storia di un’emergenza annunciata [Gypsies: The history of an announced emergency]. Naples: Liguori.Google Scholar
  14. Carrasco, O. (2011, August 23). Racist removal: The ongoing hate of Roma peoples in Europe. POOR Magazine. Retrieved from
  15. Casilino 900, brucia. (2008, December 12). Casilino 900, brucia la ‘casa dei sogni’ [Casilino 900, the ‘dream house’ burned down]. La Repubblica. Retrieved from
  16. Clough Marinaro, I. (2009). Between surveillance and exile: Biopolitics and the Roma in Italy. Bulletin of Italian Politics, 1(2), 265–287.Google Scholar
  17. Clough Marinaro, I. (2014). Rome’s ‘legal’ camps for Roma: The construction of new spaces of informality. Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 19(5), 541–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Clough Marinaro, I. (2015). The rise of Italy’s neo-ghettos. Journal of Urban History, 41(3), 368–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Council of Europe. (2008). Go beyond prejudice, discover the Roma! Retrieved from
  20. Council of Europe Romani Projekt. (ca. 2005). Institutionalisation and emancipation [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from
  21. Cugusi, M. C. (2011, May 18). ‘Generazioni rom rovinate dall’assistenzialismo’: Intervista a Dijana Pavlovic [Romani generations damaged by welfare dependency: Interview of Dijana Pavlovic]. Diritto di critica. Retrieved from
  22. Daniele, U. (2010). Zingari di carta: Un percorso nella presa di parola rom ai tempi dell’emergenza [Paper Gypsies: A route towards the empowerment of Romanies during the emergency]. Zapruder, 22, 56–72.Google Scholar
  23. Falcioni, D. (2010, July 29). Piano Nomadi di Roma: Il punto dopo un anno [Nomad Plan in Rome: The situation after a year]. InviatoSpeciale. Retrieved from
  24. Fiano, F., & Sacchettoni, I. (2016, June 16). Tangenti sui campi rom [Bribes regarding the Romani camps]. Corriere della Sera. Retrieved from
  25. Fioretti, C. (2011). Do-it-yourself housing for immigrants in Rome: Simple reaction or possible way out. In F. Eckardt & J. Eade (Eds.), The ethnically diverse city (pp. 535–558). Berlin: Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag.Google Scholar
  26. Fischer, A. M. (2011). Between nation and state: Examining the International Romani Unions. Senior Projects Spring, Paper 12. Retrieved from
  27. Fosztó, L. (2003). Diaspora and nationalism: An anthropological approach to the international Romani movement. REGIO Minorities, Politics, Society, 1: 102–118.Google Scholar
  28. Galati, M. (2007). Rom cittadinanza di carta: Metodologie di ricerca e di intervento sociale per apprendere parola e rappresentanza. [Romani citizenship made of paper: Methodologies of research and social practice to learn self-representation]. Soveria Mannelli: Edizioni Rubbettino.Google Scholar
  29. Gheorghe, N., & Acton, T. (2001). Citizens of the world and nowhere: Minority, ethnic and human rights for Roma. In W. Guy (Ed.), Between past and future: The Roma of Central and Eastern Europe (pp. 54–70). Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press.Google Scholar
  30. Hancock, I. (2000). Speech presented at the panel discussion ‘The Romani movement: What shape, what direction?’, Budapest. Retrieved from
  31. Howe, B., & Cleary, R. (2001, January). Community building: Policy issues and strategies for the Victorian Government. Melbourne: Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet.Google Scholar
  32. Laboratorio Arti Civiche. (n.d.). Savorengo ker. Retrieved from
  33. Leeson, P. T. (2010). Gypsy law. Retrieved from
  34. Lodigiani, R. (Ed.). (2010). Rapporto Sulla Città Milano 2010: Welfare ambrosiano, futuro cercasi [Report on the city of Milan 2010: Ambrosiano Welfare, looking for future]. Milano: Franco Angeli.Google Scholar
  35. Maestri, G. (2016). Persistently temporary. Ambiguity and political mobilisations in Italy’s Roma camps: A comparative perspective. Durham theses, Durham University. Retrieved from Durham E-Theses Online:
  36. Maestri, G. (2017). Struggles and ambiguities over political subjectivities in the camp: Roma camp dwellers between neoliberal and urban citizenship in Italy. Citizenship Studies, 21(6), 640–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Matras, Y. (ca. 2007). Roma culture: An introduction. Retrieved from
  38. Morelli, B. (2006). L’identità zingara [The Gypsy identity]. Rome: Anicia.Google Scholar
  39. Musgrave, S., & Bradshaw, J. (2014). Language and social inclusion: Unexplored aspects of intercultural communication. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 37(3), 198–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nicola, V. (2011). I ghetti per i rom. Roma, via Di Salone 323. Socianalisi narrativa di un campo rom [The ghettos for Romani people. Rome, Di Salone road, 323. Socio-analysis account of a Romani camp]. Cuneo: Sensibili alle Foglie.Google Scholar
  41. Nozzoli, G. (2013, July 5). Campo Castel Romano e gli incendi dei rom: ‘Non solo guerra etnica’ [Castel Romano camp and Romanies’ fires: ‘Not simply an ethnic war’]. Roma Today. Retrieved from
  42. Nye, M. (2007). The challenges of multiculturalism. Culture and Religion, 8(2), 109–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Officina Genitori. (2008). La questione rom a Milano [The Romani issue in Milan]. Retrieved from
  44. Osservatorio Sociale Regionale. (2007). Il presidente dell’Opera Nomadi Abruzzo ai dirigenti nazionali: ‘Dimettetevi e consegnate l’associazione a Rom e Sinti’ [The president of Opera Nomadi Abruzzo to the national leadership: ‘Resign and hand over the organisation to Romani people’]. Retrieved from
  45. Pecini, C. (2016, January 18). Esercenti dello spettacolo viaggiante: i tratti di un’identità incerta [Travel business owners: the traits of an uncertain identity]. Parksmania. Retrieved from
  46. Piasere, L. (2004). I Rom d’Europa: Una storia moderna [The Roma of Europe: A modern history] Rome: Laterza.Google Scholar
  47. Piasere, L. (2005). Popoli delle discariche: Saggi di antropologia zingara [Peoples of the dumps: Essays in Gypsy anthropology] (2nd ed.). Rome: CISU.Google Scholar
  48. Pierucci, A. (2014, July 10). ‘Mille euro per una baracca ai rom’: Accusati di corruzione due vigili urbani [A thousand Euros for a shanty house: Two municipal officers investigated for corruption]. Il Messaggero. Retrieved from
  49. Pissacroia, M. (1998). Trattato di psicopatologia della adolescenza [Essay on psychopathology of adolescence]. Padua: Piccin-Nuova Libraria.Google Scholar
  50. Pogány, I. (2004). Legal, social and economic challenges facing the Roma of Central and Eastern Europe. Queen’s Papers on Europeanisation, 2, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast.Google Scholar
  51. Pogány, I. (2012). Pariah peoples: Roma and the multiple failures of law in Central and Eastern Europe. Social & Legal Studies, 21(3), 375–393. Scholar
  52. Rete di Sostegno Mercatini Rom. (2012). Comunicato stampa rovistatori [Press release garbage bin pickers]. Retrieved from
  53. Rivera, A. (2003). Estranei e nemici [Aliens and enemies]. Rome: DeriveApprodi.Google Scholar
  54. Romano Lil. (2007, September 8). Spinelli e Guarnieri: Il pre-giudizio degli ‘zingari’ [Spinelli and Guarnieri: The prejudice of the ‘Gypsies’]. Romano Lil. Retrieved from
  55. Santilli, C. (2017). I rom che raccolgono il ferro a Roma [Romanies collect metal in Rome]. ANUAC, 6(1), 141–163.Google Scholar
  56. Sigona, N. (2009). The ‘Problema Nomadi’ vis-à-vis the political participation of Roma and Sinti at the local level in Italy. In N. Sigona & N. Trehan (Eds.), Romani politics in contemporary Europe: Poverty, ethnic mobilization, and the neoliberal order (pp. viii–xiii). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sigona, N. (2015). Campzenship: Reimagining the camp as a social and political space. Citizenship Studies, 19(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Silverman, C. (1995). Persecution and politicization: Roma (Gypsies) of Eastern Europe. Cultural Survival Quarterly, 19(2), 43–49. Retrieved from
  59. Spinelli, S. (2005). Baro romano drom. Rome: Meltemi Editore.Google Scholar
  60. Stasolla, C. (2012). Sulla pelle dei Rom: Il Piano Nomadi della giunta Alemanno [On the skin of the Romani People: The Nomad Plan of the Alemanno administration]. Rome: Edizioni Alegre.Google Scholar
  61. Tonkens, E., & Hurenkamp, M. (2011, July 7–9). The nation is occupied, the city can be claimed. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Sociology of Urban and Regional Development of the International Sociological Association, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  62. U Velto. (2012a, May 15). Rom e Sinti, Fornero: Uscire da gestione emergenziale [Roma, Sinti, and Fornero: Let’s drop the emergency approach]. U Velto. Retrieved from
  63. U Velto. (2012b, May 28). Rom e Sinti, l’associazionismo: Parliamo di interazione [Romani associationism: Let’s talk about social interaction]. U Velto. Retrieved from
  64. Un rom delegato di Alemanno. (2010, July 27). Un rom delegato di Alemanno [A Romani person as Alemanno’s delegate]. La Repubblica. Retrieved from
  65. Uzunova, I. (2010). Roma integration in Europe: Why minority rights are failing. Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, 27(1), 283–323. Retrieved from
  66. van Baar, H. (2005). Romany Countergovernmentality through transnational networking. Paper presented at the Oxford Symposium on (Trans-)Nationalism in South East Europe, University of Oxford, Oxford.Google Scholar
  67. Vermeersch, P. (2001). Roma identity and ethnic mobilisation in Central European politics. Paper prepared for the workshop on identity politics at the ECPR, Grenoble.Google Scholar
  68. Weyrauch, W. O. (1999). Unwritten constitutions, unwritten law. Washington and Lee Law Review, 56(4), 1211–1244.Google Scholar
  69. Woodcock, S. (2009). What’s in a name? How Romanian Romani were persecuted by Romanians as Tigani in the Holocaust, and how they resisted. Interstitio. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Riccardo Armillei
    • 1
  1. 1.Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI)Deakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

Personalised recommendations