The Evolution of Anti-Gypsyism in Poland: From Ritual Scapegoat to Surrogate Victims to Racial Hate Speech?
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Pedagogical University of Cracow
Publication date: 2016-03-30
Polish Sociological Review 2016;193(1):101–118
Building my argument on the analysis of two cases of anti-Roma violence (Oświęcim 1981 and Mława 1991), I would like to search for a pattern of evolution of anti-gypsyism in Poland. In the 1980s, the ambiguous stereotype of Roma, has been giving way to the picture of Roma as a convenient scapegoat to be blamed for the insecurity and economic hardships. This shift in the stereotypical image of Roma, together with the specific “management of discontent” performed by the communist authorities, prompted pogrom-like outbreaks of anti-Roma violence in the towns of Konin and Oświęcim. Similar attacks on Roma have taken place again in the beginning of the next decade, already in post-communist Poland. The mob aggression against Roma in the town of Mława in 1991, although retained many features of the earlier acts of violence, has already represented a new pattern in which Roma personified the fears associated with the transformation toward neoliberal capitalist economy. This new pattern of perception has provided fertile ground for the racialization of the anti-Roma discourse which I intend to trace down in the most contemporary instances of hate speech against Roma.