How to Empower Gypsies? An Ethnographic Study

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The work focuses on the case of the nomad camp of Palermo, in southern Italy, where three groups of “Gypsies” have been living for twenty-five years, in ghetto-like conditions. This camp represents a world outside the city, or rather a confined microcosm, with, except for volunteer workers, sporadic contact with the people of the city or the public administration. . This means that there is no inter-relationship between the camp and the outside world. On the contrary, for the so-called host society, the three different groups represent a sort of generic and nebulous whole, cut off in a green area, surrounded by a high wall. Not seeing them means not caring about them, their living conditions, their culture and their identity. The only interaction between “them” and “us” happens when the Romanì women leave the camp every morning and walk the city streets; children wander about alone, begging for food; little boys are disguised as girls in order to make passers-by feel sorry for them;; on the other hand, younger Gypsies prefer traffic lights as a place to beg for money. As known, in local people imagery It is widely acknowledged that in the minds of local people there is widespread ethnocentric prejudice, especially in terms of marginality and xenophobia. Local inhabitants tend to assume that their western, urban space is being invaded by this unpleasant microcosm, which really ought to stay within its own boundaries. Within this ethnic framework, I would like to suggest social intervention through the empowerment approach (Montero, 2009) and “street level bureaucracy” (Lipski, 1980) in order to arrive at an initial form of social security cushion on the long road towards social inclusion.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteBoundaries: Dichotomies of Keeping In and Keeping Out
Numero di pagine10
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2010


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