A Different Guest Worker Story: Roma Guest Workers – a Transnational Minority in Transmigration

  • Ana Banić-Grubišić Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
Keywords:
Roma guest workers, Roma refugees and asylum seekers, temporary labor abroad, welfare, transmigration

Abstract

he paper considers the ambiguity of the term ‘guest worker’, based on the example of economic migrants who belong to the Roma population. Over the last fifty years, members of the Roma minority have migrated to Western European countries for different reasons (economic, political and social reasons), and there is no official data on the precise number of Roma who have migrated abroad, whether permanently or temporarily. It is possible to establish a number of categories of Roma immigrants who reside permanently or temporarily in Western European countries. These are: the so-called “classic guest workers” who, through legal or illegal means went to work abroad in the 60’s and 70’s, and mostly settled permanently in the host countries; Roma refugees from Kosovo and/or asylum seekers who left the country during the wars in the 90’s, and who were returned to Serbia after the signing of the Readmission treaty; and those Roma who represent occasional economic migrants: people who, after Serbia was put on the white Schengen list (the liberalization of the visa policy for citizens of Serbia), spend three months at a time working abroad. Even though these three categories of Roma workers have different reasons for migrating from and returning to Serbia, the majority of the population perceives them as a unified, distinct whole – as guest workers. The paper is the result of fieldwork conducted in South-Eastern Serbia, in the village of Minicevo.

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Published
2011-12-06

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