The (in)formal, the (il)legal and the (il)licit. Roma informal settlements and institutional pragmatics of compromise and compassion in a Roman periphery

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Abstract

Using the lens of informal Roma settlements in the southwestern periphery of Rome, this article explores Romani approaches to urban space, showing how these are informed by heterogeneous understandings of non-Roma conceptions and practices of (in)formality, (il)legality and (il)licitness. The article also highlights complex and ambivalent attitudes concerning Roma and their informal settlements on the part of non-Roma residents of the neighboring district. Finally, it frames the existence of the informal settlements within the authorities' juggling of formal rejection and informal calculated acceptance of urban informality. The grey spaces that emerge from the convergence of institutional pragmatics of compromise and compassion are connected to governmental discourses that frame informal Roma settlements as dangerous and polluting spaces, and treat their inhabitants as exploitable labor force and politically expendable subjects. Urban (in)formality is also the space that Roma, like many non-Roma, navigate to cope with vulnerability and express their right to the city. Informal Roma settlements thus appear fully embedded in the political, socio-economic and cultural fabric of Rome, which embraces them precisely by treating them as separate polluting spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102369
JournalCities
Volume95
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The preparation of this article was supported by the Post-doctoral Research Fund of the University of Iceland.

Funding Information:
The preparation of this article was supported by the Post-doctoral Research Fund of the University of Iceland.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Other keywords

  • Calculated informality
  • Compassion
  • Normalization
  • Roma
  • Rome
  • Urban informalities

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