CONFERENCE: Racism, Justice, Environment: Critical Approaches in Romani Studies and Beyond


Racism, Justice, Environment: Critical Approaches in Romani Studies and Beyond


The European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) in cooperation with The Romani Studies Program and the Environmental and Social Justice Action Research Group at Central European University, the Roma Program at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, and the Critical Romani Studies Department at Södertörn University are pleased to invite you to the conference Racism, Justice, Environment: Critical Approaches in Romani Studies and Beyond.


The conference will be held on June 1-2, 2023 in a hybrid format, in Central European University Vienna and online.
Please register by 25 May at https://forms.office.com/e/qR2jYHYHY1


DRAFT PROGRAM: https://bit.ly/41gKzpH



People in Eastern Europe have higher chances of dying as a result of pollution than those in Western Europe. The highest rates of pollution-related deaths are in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, and Romania, all countries with significant Roma communities. As the 2019 European Environment Agency report shows, environmental inequality and toxic exposure are linked to race and ethnicity: “Roma communities in Central and Eastern Europe are often excluded from basic services and exposed to environmental pollution, with serious health consequences”.


Across Europe, numerous Roma communities live in environmentally hazardous areas with restricted access to water, sanitation, and waste removal, with their land, water, and air contaminated by waste dumps, industrial farms, mines or abandoned industrial areas, and with unavailable public infrastructure and access to green zones. The uneven distribution of environmental harms and benefits significantly contribute to the inequities Roma people face in health. This gap will further grow along the impact of climate change.


The present climate crisis is rooted in structures of extractive capitalism and white supremacy, i.e. the maximization of profit by exploiting natural resources and subjugated, racialized communities. The common origin of the climate crisis and racism is the unregulated accumulation of wealth. Because the rate of profit tends to fluctuate and fall, capitalist societies have to move anew to plunder lands and people and resort to cruel modes of creating capital. The civilized space of legality and democracy is often dependent on the racist and extractive spaces of unregulated accumulation. However, it is under this perspective that we can also see a return of an allegedly ungovernable, overexploited actors – nature and oppressed racialized groups re-asserting their agency in fighting the colonial domination of exploitative and extractive governance.


The conference seeks to promote the participation of Romani scholars and professionals in documenting and shaping academic, professional, and popular discourse to counteract past practices of exploitation and exclusion. Moreover, the conference aims to facilitate a knowledge exchange between various scholars and professionals from social, historical, environmental, architecture and urbanism, and climate disciplines.


Critical Romani Studies proposes a paradigm shift and challenges the dominant academic and policy discourses and suggests inquiries into forms of oppressions Roma are facing, highlighting the importance of structural forms of injustice. When it comes to environmental injustice, blame is placed on Romani individuals and communities for making wrong “lifestyle” choices, and they are often held responsible for their own poor living conditions, environment, and health. This conference also aims to focus on structural inequities, authoritarian politics, and institutional corruption that produce and maintain uneven environmental and climate exposure.