Anti-Tsiganism, anti-Gypsyism,  and Romaphobia.

Anti-Tsiganism, anti-Gypsyism, and Romaphobia essentially mean the same thing: A distinct type of racist ideology. It is, at the same time, similar, different, and intertwined with many other types of racism.

Anti-Gypsyism itself is a complex social phenomenon which manifests itself through violence, hate speech, exploitation, and discrimination in its most visible form.

Anti-Gypsyism is a very specific form of racism, an ideology of racial superiority, a form of dehumanisation and of institutionalised racism. It is fuelled by historical discrimination and the struggle to maintain power relations that permit advantages to majority groups. It is based, on the one hand, on imagined fears, negative stereotypes and myths and, on the other, on denial or erasure from the public conscience of a long history of discrimination against Rroma

Anti-Gypsyism most evidently reveals itself in violent acts, hate speech, or racist discourse. But beneath that most visible layer of anti-Rromani sentiment, lie deeper, often invisible or even unconscious, discriminatory attitudes.

Even if authorities acknowledge the socio-economic situation of Rroma as a problematic issue, they are often denied their full rights as equal citizens, excluded from an active role in policy design and implementation, and approached in a patronizing manner.

Such ‘applied anti-Gypsyism is the background to the unequal treatment of Rroma – on the labour market, or in the provision of social services such as housing, healthcare and education.

The What and Why of Romaphobia

The Rroma (gypsy) population forms one of the largest and, according to recent research, one of the most disadvantageous and stereotyped minority groups in contemporary Europe. In the last decades, scholars mostly used the term “anti-Gypsyism” as a generic term for a broad set of negative feelings, stereotyping, and discriminatory practice against Rroma. In order to avoid negative connotations attached to the word “Gypsy’, some authors use the term “Rromaphobia” for negative affects associated with the Rroma.

Rromaphobia is a predominantly racist phenomenon, encompas singelements of cultural racism and dehumanization. Similar to other forms of modern racism, Rromaphobia derives from socio-economic competition, and often manifests itself through opposition to minority benefits. On this account, we can argue that Rromaphobia is linked to (perceived) threat to welfare of an in-group or its members.However, what makes this type of prejudice peculiar is not pure competition for scarce material and immaterial resources.

Distinguished criteria concerns symbolic threat posed by Rroma culture, which is perceived potentially threatening towards in-group’s values, morals and beliefs. In this respect, negative stereotypes regarding Rroma’s work ethics, laziness, proneness to criminal behaviour, are the main indicators of anti-Roma prejudice.
Furthermore, negative stereotypes create a climate where people fear that Rroma could contaminate national culture, and pose the threat to their physical and material well being. This brings us to another relevant indicator of Rromaphobia, which is inter-group anxiety.

As experience has shown, ethnocentric people are likely to perceive the members of visible minorities as threatening national unity and cultural cohesion. This is where a vicious circle begins: ethnocentrism discourages inter-group contact, resulting in social distance and ignorance about the out-groups, which in turn increase prejudice.

Broader ethno-cultural interactions reflect similar trend. In the last two decades, while promoting multiculturalism and diversity (i.e. maintenance of one’s own cultural identity together with maintenance of strong ties with the host society), most of Europe denied the Rroma’s right to identity.

Particularly in South-Eastern Europe, where the large numbers of Rroma minority have been routinely subjected to forced assimilation, segregation and marginalization. In order to escape growing discrimination and racist violence, many Roma immigrated from Eastern to Western Europe.

Western media however promptly responded to “Rroma invasion”, emphasizing social threat from a new economic immigration. It can be argued that negative sentiments towards Rroma are predominantly symbolic and racist phenomena.other. In the words of anthropologist Van de Port, “every Gypsy image has its anti-image; every statement about Rroma has its counter statement”.We can agree that negative side of this symbolic, ‘imaginary figure’ of Rroma defines the scope of everyday stigmatization, social exclusion and discrimination of Rroma.