How to Empower Gypsies? An Ethnographic Study

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The work focuses on the case of the nomad camp of Palermo, in south Italy, where three groups of “gypsies” live since twenty-five years, in condition of ghetto. This nomad camp constitutes a world out of the city, better an encompassed microcosm, with sporadic contact with citizenship or public administration, excepted for voluntaries. This means that there are not interrelations between the camp and the rest of the external space. On the contrary, the three different groups represent for the outside a generic nebulous whole, confined in a green area, surrounded by a high wall. Don’t see them signifies don’t care about them, about their living conditions, about their culture and about their identity. The only interaction between “them” and “us” happens when Romanì exit every morning from the camp and cross the municipal streets: children roam alone, asking for food, some little boy is disguised as a girl in order to provoke more compassion on passing people. Adults, instead, prefer traffic lights for begging charity. And so gypsy children are seen as abandoned, while adults are considered as unemployed who don’t want to search a work, always “producing” children. In the people imagery there is a lot of ethnocentric prejudice, especially in term of exclusivity and stigmatisation: first of all the idea that the occidental space is invaded by this unpleasant microcosm that must stay in its boundaries. Inside this ethnic framework, we hypothesize a social intervention through the empowerment approach (Moreno, 2009) and the “street level bureaucracy” (Lipski, 1980) in order to gain a first form of social security cushion in the long way for social inclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages0
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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