Radu, Carmen. 2011. “Governmentality and the Deportation of Eastern European Roma in Italy and France.” Student Pulse Academic Journal 3.04.
This case study asks the following question: given the symbol of the European Union as the ultimate supranational, rights-based, compliance-inducing international organization, why have member states France and Italy escaped punishment for their blatant violations of international law, reflected in their mass deportations of Roma and the dismantlement of Roma camps during the period of 2008 to 2010? Inspired by a Foucauldian theoretical framework, this paper analyzes how discourses and practices reveal power relationships at the EU and state levels, and argues that the mass deportations are a site of governing and biopower as defined by Foucault. The main theoretical Foucauldian tools used are governmentality, discourse, biopower, the archaeology of knowledge, and the genealogy of practice. Given that this case study analyzes factors that lie both inside and outside the state, the paper draw upon scholars who explain why governmentality is relevant to the study of international politics. Finally, because of the dire poverty in which Roma live, governmentality studies are used to highlight the government of poverty, and show how the government of poverty today entails the criminalization of the poor.
The main contention is that the discourses and practices surrounding the 2008-2010 Roma deportations reveal a power struggle between the EU’s governing of France and Italy, and France and Italy’s governing of the Roma. This power struggle allows us to understand why France and Italy were able to evade punitive measures. Because of its lack of power of norm formation in the socioeconomic rights sphere, EU discourse reveals that the EU understands the Roma situation within the context of ethnic discrimination. By governing the Roma within the context of poverty as a social danger, France and Italy escaped punitive measures because the EU has been weak in alternatively shaping the government of poverty. The Eastern European Roma remain caught in intersecting persecutions due to their status as both ethnically different and poor.