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The stable stranger

Constructing “the Roma” within the European neoliberal culture complex

Marianne Blom Brodersen and Emil André Røyrvik

Drawing on ethnographic material from Gitanos of Spain and current EU Roma integration policies, we explore the contemporary construction of the Roma ethnic group category as a specific type of “stranger” in the context of the European neoliberal culture complex. Our argument is that this classificatory reconstruction can be seen to work as a cultural prerequisite for the socio-political shaping and management of the Roma as a neoliberal “stable stranger.” This new stranger is based on constructing Roma as a potential unused labor pool and as recent immigrants, in contrast to the Gitanos’ own ideology and locally grounded identity of self-employment and anti-proletarianism. The paradoxical consequence of the integration policies, therefore, is the potential pushing of the Gitanos further away from Spanish mainstream society.