By Pauline Scott,2014-09-28 05:35
11 views 0

    Graduate School of Development Studies

    Ossified Discrimination:

    Demystifying Policy and Conventional Frames to the

    Hungarian Romani by „Myth‟ deconstruction

    A Research Paper presented by:

    Gustavo Voeroes Dénes


    in partial fulfillment of the requirements for obtaining the degree of



    Development Research


    Members of the examining committee:

    Prof. Dr John Cameron

    Dr Helen Hintjens

    The Hague, The Netherlands

    November, 2011


    This document represents part of the author‟s study programme while at the

    Institute of Social Studies. The views stated therein are those of the author and

    not necessarily those of the Institute.


    Postal address: Institute of Social Studies

    P.O. Box 29776

    2502 LT The Hague

    The Netherlands

    Location: Kortenaerkade 12

    2518 AX The Hague

    The Netherlands

    Telephone: +31 70 426 0460

    Fax: +31 70 426 0799



    Contents iii

    List of Charts v List of Tables vi List of Acronyms vii List of Hungarian Terms viii Abstract ix

    Chapter 1 Introduction 1 1.1 The Research Topic 1 1.2 Brief introduction to sources of data 2 1.3 2005-2015: Decade for Roma Inclusion 3 1.4 Trajectory of the research 4 1.5 The main research questions 6 1.6 Outline of Chapters 6 Chapter 2 Methodological and Ethical Considerations 8 2.1 Key concepts 8

    Groupism & Passing 8

    Ethnicity & nationality 8 2.2 Ethical consideration 9

    Romani Politics 9

    Preserving anonymity 9

    Situating data sources 10

    Designation 10 2.3 Fieldwork considerations 11 2.4 Identifying Myths as a solution to data scarcity 11 Chapter 3 Myth 1: “Hungary is a frontrunner in minority

    recognition” 13 3.1 The Minorities Act 13 3.2 Comparative indicators 15

    Source 1: Roma in an Expanding Europe 16


     Source 2: Faces of Poverty, Faces of Hope 16

    Source 3: DecadeWatch 17

    Source 4: EU-MIDIS 18

    Source 5: The Glass Box 19

    Summary of sources 20 3.3 Concluding remarks 21 Chapter 4 Myth 2: “All Hungarian Romani are the Same” 23 4.1 Contextualisation: Stereotypes 23 4.2 „Common background‟ 24 4.3 “Tzigan”: Who are you calling one? 26 4.4 “Seclusion” 29 4.5 “Uniform experience” 31

    „Quantitative uniformity‟ 31

    „Qualitative uniformity‟ 32 4.6 „Political Unity‟ 33 4.7 Concluding remarks 35 Chapter 5 Myth 3: “The Hungarian State is Ethnically Blind” 36 5.1 The Data Protection Act 36 5.2 Data Protection Act‟s implications for minority policy 37 5.3 Evidences of a discriminatory bureaucracy 38 5.4 „Ethnic‟ datasets and depersonalisation 39 5.5 Concluding remarks 41 Conclusion 42

    Notes 44

    Appendices a

    References j


List of Charts

    Chart 1: Poverty Handicap a Chart 2: Unemployment Handicap a Chart 3: Literacy handicap b Chart 4: Discriminated minorities in the EU b Chart 5: Linguistic and geographical background of Romani in Hungary c


List of Tables

    Table 1: Fertility in Hungary d Table 2: Poverty per household size, Hungary 2002 d Table 3: Ethnic affiliation d Table 4: Hungarian Romani by mother-tongue d Table 5: Official and estimated Romani populations e Table 6: Hungarian Romani by mother-tongue and nationality e Table 7: Census population by nationality/ethnicity f Table 8: Institutionalisation of Romani children g Table 9: Prevalence of police stoppage g Table 10: What did the police do in the last stop? h Table 11: Trust in the police h Table 12: Sample from Minorities Ombudsman's Report: nature of entry h Table 13: Sample from Minorities' Ombudsman Report: Affected minority i Table 14: Sample from Minorities Ombudsman's Report: Theme of entry i


List of Acronyms

    AA: Autonómia Alapítvány Autonómia Foundation, NGO

    DPA: Data Protection Act

    EUAFR: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights ERRC: European Roma Rights Centre, INGO

    EU: European Union

    FIDESZ: Fiatal Demokráták Szövetsége Young Democrats‟ Federation, po-

    litical party

    Jobbik: Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom Movement for a Better Hungary LMP: Lehet Más a Politika Politics Can be Different, political party MA: Minorities Act

    MDG: Millenium Development Goal

    MSG: Minority Self-Government

    NTSG: National Tzigan Self-Government

    MSzP: Magyar Szocialista Párt Hungarian Socialist Party, political party NEKI: Nemzetségi és Etnikai Kisebbségi Jogvédô Irodája Legal Defense

    Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities, NGO OSI: Open Society Institute, INGO

    TASZ: Társaság a Szabadságjogokért Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, NGO UNDP: United Nations Development Programme


List of Hungarian Terms

    Állampolgárság: citizenship

    Azonosítás: identification

    Azonosító: identifier, identifying element

    Beás: Beash, Bayash; Romanian-speaking Romani group

    Cigány: Tzigan. Equivalent to „Gipsy‟ without pejorative connotations. (see


    Cigánysor: Tzigan lane; street in a Hungarian village renown for Romani resi-dence

    Etnikum: ethnicity, ethnic group

    Etnikai: ethnic

    Identitás: identity

    Jog: right, legislation, law

    Kisebbség: minority

    Nemzet: nation

    Nemzeti és Etnikai Kisebbségi Jogok Országgyûlési Biztosa (Kisebbségek Ombudsman): Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities (Minorities Ombudsman)

    Nemzetiség: nationality, national minority; minority; also ethnicity in certain cases.

    Oláhcigány: Literally, Vlax/Vlach/Wallachian Tzigan; Romani-speaking Ro-mani group (various dialects).

    Önkormányzat: self-government

    Romungro: Hungarian-speaking group.

    Szintó: Sinti. Romani-speaking Romani group (central dialect)



    This study is about three common myths that prevent an accurate depiction of the present situation of the Romani populations of Hungary. The aim of the study is to seek to identify three central myths that have served to reproduce an incorrect image of how the Hungarian government „manages‟ its Romani

    populations, and how Romani live within Hungary. The research was con-ducted through a mix of fieldwork and secondary sources, including a review of official and NGO reports and data in Hungarian and English. A key finding of the study was that data was not available on many of the questions originally posed by the researcher. Lack of disaggregated data was found to be a major impediment to building up a reliable picture of the status and position of Ro-mani in the country. Another key finding was that the official stance was highly contradictory, and counterproductive to improvement of the conditions of Romani in the country. Within the context of the Decade for Roma Integra-tion, the diversity of the Romani people of Hungary will continue to pose a challenge.

    Relevance to Development Studies

    This study considers the exclusion and discrimination against Romani people in Hungary, and what this represents in relation to their quality of life and pos-sibilities for achievement. The serious constraints imposed by public policies towards minorities are identified as lack of relevant data, linked to disinforma-tion by misleading categories used in policy and media. Finally, the study con-siders the relevance of developments issues as they affect a diverse minority in „new Europe‟.


    Discrimination; Hungary; Romani; Myth; Minority policies; Visibility; Ethnicity; Data disaggregation; Data protection


Chapter 1


    1.1 The Research Topic

    This study will examine three central myths about (1) Hungary as a „model‟ state in terms of minority policies; (2) the supposed unity and

    homogeneity of the Romani population as some kind of „minority

    community‟ within Hungary and (3) the „ethnic blindness‟ of the Hun-

    garian state. Throughout the study, the concern is to show how as-sumptions like these, and the lack of political will to „understand‟ the „Romani problem‟ in Hungary, can reproduce patterns of discrimina-

    tion and become a means of denying that this is the case. The original focus of the study was on reproductive rights and this had to change, following fieldwork, because of a lack of data and difficulties of access to informants (which will be discussed later). Instead, this study turned to look at wider myths of an ethnically blind Hungarian state and soci-ety, and a unified Romani population with common interests and con-cerns. The idea of dispelling three central myths is to show how the state bureaucracy and other public institutions tend to reproduce pat-terns of discrimination against various (diverse) 'Romani' populations within Hungary. We consider the three central myths in turn and then make some general conclusions about what makes continued discrimi-nation possible, difficult to combat, and even invisible.

    This study will consider a number of examples of bureaucratic institutions and public sector services where Romani are identified and excluded or denied access; Hungarian „ethnically blind‟ policies will

    thus be put to the test, on their own terms. In other cases, Romani are considered in their diversity (especially in Myth 2), and we show how, although they are all more likely to be included in repressive institutions,

    r schools for the handicapped such as prisons and child foster-homes, o

    among others, Romani are also very different among themselves. How Romani are identified and how much discrimination takes place is all linked with common mythical forms of representation of „essential‟

    Romani and the „nature‟ of the Hungarian state. By looking at the offi-

    cial data available, the main findings will expose a great deal of incoher-ence, particularly in regards to the Romani, in how ethnic (or national minority), data is collected, handled and used for policy interventions.

    To start with, in chapter 3, Hungarian claims to prominence in minority acknowledgement is shown to be partial and deriving not from a genuine, but instrumental concern on the matter, while sustain-ing indefinitely a dislocated locus of political effort in regards to Ro-mani. On the one hand, highly selective use of some types of data, with seemingly unjustified form of ethnic disaggregation, serves to legitimise the current configuration of the characteristic „minority governance‟ in

    Hungary, resulting internal political disarray, disempowerment and nu-


Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email