Those Who Count: Expert Practices of Roma Classification

Those Who Count: Expert Practices of Roma Classification

Those Who Count: Expert Practices of Roma Classification

Those Who Count: Expert Practices of Roma Classification

Synopsis

"The book scrutinizes the scientific and expert practices of Roma classification in a historic perspective focusing on the expert discourses that gave rise to Roma-related policies in the last two decades. Epistemic communities that classify and describe Roma obey the commandments of political regimes in power, to the disciplinary research traditions and to the organizational interests. The resultant of knowledge subordination is a negative Roma public image that creates and reinforce stereotypical views held by the society at large. Case studies and thorough examples in the book show that both the census as an administrative and scientific practice, as well as policy related surveys are crafting Roma identity in an essentializing manner. The census reifies Roma by the use of mutually exclusive categories and by post-codification of data while the surveys do so by unfounded representativeness claims. Roma are relegated by the experts to several types of determinism: to a social category, to a frozen culture and to a biologized entity. The recently reemerged scholarship in Roma-related genetics imported classifications and narrations created in the fields of social sciences and contributed to circulation of bio-historical narratives that singularize, pathologize and exoticize Roma"--Provided by publisher.

Excerpt

This is not another book about Gypsies or Roma, how they currently are categorized. Instead, it is one about the history of their classification and about their classifiers. the interest in representing Roma is both scientific and political: science assumes to represent Roma as a research object by constituting Roma groupness through its various disciplinary branches, while political entrepreneurs assume their representation by instrumentalization of Roma into a political object. It is the aim of this book to point out the Roma-related scientific interests, which are at the same time epistemic and cliental, as well as the political interests, that are also terribly mundane if one considers money, power, academic, and managerial positions that circulate in political and academic networks within European and national bureaucracies, or within international organizations.

Although this book is written following a scholarly recipe, I consider myself neither a scholar, nor an activist but a reader of both types of accounts, so my critique is done from this point of view, that of a reader. I have to acknowledge, however, that the book is also an account of about 20 years of experience in Roma-related research. This experience is reflected in the text, which I see as a form of selfreflection on my previous work, and perhaps a point of departure from the strand of quantitative research that when divorced from social theory, becomes merely an empiricist craft. By emergence and development of a policy literature that appears to be written and, most impor-

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