The Governance of Romani People in Italy: Discourse, Policy and Practice Nando Sigona


This article provides a critical overview of public policy and practice towards the Romani population in Italy over a period of fifty years. It investigates the uses and consequences of the label ‘nomads’ and widespread essentialist assumptions about their alleged nomadic lifestyle, and the ambiguity embedded in policy which claims to solve the ‘Gypsy problem’. It explores in particular the ways in which recent political debate and policy initiatives have succeeded in reframing the Roma issue exclusively in terms of emergency and public security. This discursive shift has produced the rescaling of the governance of Roma, relocating the responsibility for managing the Romani people from local authorities to central government. A significant corollary to this process has been the transfer of the Roma issue from the social policy agenda to a mere policing one, with important consequences in public policy, especially in relation to housing.

Sigona, N. (2011) ‘The Governance of Romani People in Italy: Discourse, Policy and Practice’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 16(5): 590-606