Giving Memory A Future
it en

Milan - Italy

  • Vitale T., "Governare mediante gli sgomberi e segregazione urbana", in Palidda S., "Razzismo democratico" , Agenzia X, Milano, 2009, pp. 180-190.

    The article describes a case of urban conflict connected with Roma presence in a forsaken area in the northern suburbs of Milan. Initially, the players had a shared interest in reversing the area's neglect but were unable to establish appropriate contacts with the area's Roma dwellers. Following this, a period of subsequent evictions and re-occupations of the area by the Roma ensued. The dynamics of situation were characterized by recurrent actions and by inadequate coordination between the players involved. The area became inextricably intertwined with the story of the Roma dwellers, yet the municipal administration failed to address the Roma and the locals together, instead choosing to negotiate the two communities separately, as per the usual practice. The actions undertaken by public bodies toward the Roma were driven by what could be described as “differential legitimacy”: the local authority did not recognize the Roma's agency and tensions emerged regarding the issue of representation. The outcome of the conflict was to enhance fatalism as a political and moral evaluation of public authority action. In the conclusion, the article raises a question on the possible eugenic approach of Roma policies.

Tents burned to prevent the arrival of the Roma, December 2006, Opera (Milan).
  • Opera: "Essere contro i Rom diventa un'identità" ["Being against the Roma becomes a matter of identity"] (Dec. 2006-Feb. 2007). Adapted from the exhibition "Io vivo al campo". Storie di bambini rom a Milano ["'I live in the camp.' Stories of Roma children in Milan"] produced by Comunità di Sant'Egidio.

    Between December 2006 and February 2007, a group of inhabitants of Opera, a suburb south of Milan, declared “war” on 67 Romanian Roma, including 37 minors, whom the municipal administration (with the Casa della Carità responsible for their social welfare and the Prefect as a guarantor of law and order) had decided to host in a makeshift campsite for three months in response to an humanitarian emergency. The tents were burned down and when the institutions set up a new campsite, the locals established an (illegal) 24/7 protest picket. “Being against Roma people” became a group identity, a factor of social cohesion. ("From the picket’s site: and then we found ourselves treated like stars... drinking whiskey at the rom.pi bar"). Meanwhile, the Roma suffered a “psychological siege”, they were insulted and threatened until the situation grew so unsustainable they had to be transferred elsewhere. In the local elections the following April, the leader of the protest was unexpectedly elected as Mayor of Opera.



© Donatella De Vito