We have nowhere else to go - A study of urban informality within a Roma settlement in Arad, Romania

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Submission Summary
The complexities of urban informality are increasingly being examined in nuanced and region specific ways. Within the post-socialist states of Central-Eastern Europe, a growing body of research is interrogating phenomena within urban environments through the lens of transition and the unique historical and social dynamics of the area. In Romania, one such complexity is the overrepresentation of Roma in informal settlements on the peripheries of urban centres. This thesis engages with this issue through the undertaking of an ethnographic case study of a settlement in the city of Arad. Firstly, by establishing the factors that led people to the settlement and then modelling the relational dynamics between settlement, state and NGO through a Bourdieusian theoretical framework. The findings indicate that historical and contemporary processes of exclusion and expulsion work to leave some Roma households with limited options within the city. Alternative housing solutions focus on resolving practical “development” issues without engaging with embedded issues of racism or necessarily engaging residents in their planning. These developments risk relocating the fundamental issues at hand to a new location within the city without addressing them. To move away from hidden and explicit segregation and actively work towards desegregation is perhaps the most challenging resolution but has seen success in other places and confronts a multiplicity of entangled issues.
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1: Inclusiveness and empowerment. Al-Majlis: planning with and for communities
Lund University

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