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Human rights entrepreneurship in post-socialist Hungary: From the "Gypsy problem" to "Romani rights".

Trehan, Nidhi (2009) Human rights entrepreneurship in post-socialist Hungary: From the "Gypsy problem" to "Romani rights". PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

The thesis investigates the paradoxical developments and implications of the emerging Romani (Gypsy) civil rights movement in post-socialist Europe. Focusing on contemporary Hungary as a case study for the region, the research covers discursive and political frameworks on human rights, and critically analyses their multifaceted dimensions, including the role of human rights NGOs and INGOs and the moral entrepreneurs who run them. The research uses qualitative methods to investigate the activities of non-state actors and social agents which influence both Romani communities as well as state policy in Hungary vis-a-vis Roma. In Hungarian society, the complex discursive shifts on Romani people, from the 'Gypsy problem' to 'Roma rights' are key components of an emerging narrative of liberal human rights entrepreneurs engaged in creating a visible space for recognition of the rights of Roma. The research investigates how the public face of the 'movement' builds itself around claims of violence and oppression of Roma. It also reflects upon key strategies and technologies employed by the movement's participants within Hungarian civil society. The co-existence of neoliberal human rights regimes of governance with emancipatory discourses indicates, paradoxically, the continuing (re)production of racialised and other hierarchies within the movement itself which reinforce asymmetries of power within Hungarian society. Another primary finding is that in practice the movement has privileged the pursuit of civil liberties over socio-economic justice for Roma, and has, as a result, served to dislocate local Romani communities from decision-making structures. The thesis argues that 'counterdiscourses' to neoliberal human rights approaches are effectively marginalized, as particular 'Roma rights' frameworks have become impositions from outside the Romani communities, generating arenas of strategic instrumentalisation by elite participants. Subaltern Romani communities signal their awareness of these asymmetries of power, and show their resistance through a strategic display of ironic humour and attempts at epistemic disobedience.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Social Structure and Development, European Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Sociology
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2545

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