Living beyond the Pale

Living beyond the Pale: Environmental Justice and the Roma Minority

Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 255
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  • Book Info
    Living beyond the Pale
    Book Description:

    We find Roma settlements on the outskirts of villages, separated from the majority population by roads, railways or other barriers, disconnected from water pipelines and sewage treatment. Why are some people (or groups) better off than others when it comes to the distribution of environmental benefits? In order to understand the present situation and identify ways to address the impacts of these inequalities we must understand the past and mechanisms related to the differentiated treatment. The situation and discrimination of the Roma ethnic minority in Slovakia is examined from the perspective of environmental conditions and injustice. There is no simple answer as to why there is environmental injustice. Environmental conditions in Roma settlements are just one of the indicators of failures of policies addressing the problem of poverty and social exclusion in marginalized groups, structural discrimination, and internal Roma problems. Environmental injustice is not an outcome of the “historical determination” of the Roma population to live in environmentally problematic places.

    eISBN: 978-615-5225-54-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. List of Figures
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    May 24, 1945—it is sixteen days after the end of World War II. Czechoslovakia has been liberated and among the first laws adopted by the newly formed government² is a directive on Governing Certain Conditions of Gypsies.³ Paragraph 2 of the directive states: “In villages where they [Roma] have dwellings in proximity to public, state-owned and other roads, the dwellings will be removed, placed separately from the village on distant places selected by the village” (Jurová 2002b).

    This is neither the first nor the last attempt to regulate Roma⁴ settlements and separate them from villages of non-Roma. Rather it...

  8. Chapter one Environment, Poverty and the Roma
    (pp. 5-16)

    Negative impacts from industrial production and development do not affect everyone in society evenly. Environmental risks and the distribution of adverse effects of development have a tendency to be imposed more on those who do not possess adequate resources for their own protection or are discriminated against because of their origin. As Beck (1999:7) claims: “the first law of environmental risk is: pollution follows the poor.” For the poor who are discriminated against because of their ethnic affiliation and already experience social exclusion from society, the environment might represent yet another form of discrimination, discrimination for which we might use...

  9. PART I
    • Chapter two Environmental Justice and Entitlements
      (pp. 19-44)

      I based my analyses of the Roma situation on two concepts: environmental justice and entitlement. Both concepts are helpful in order to address the questions of origins and presence of the inequalities and to create a framework for shedding light on the importance, dynamics, and outcomes of the uneven distribution.

      It is perhaps useful to start first with the history and evolution of the concept of environmental justice. It helps us to analyze approaches to understanding what is (and what is not) just in the distribution of environmental benefits and harm. There is no better point of departure, than to...

    • Chapter three The Roma of Slovakia
      (pp. 45-66)

      The Roma minority is probably the most distinctive ethnic group in Central and Eastern Europe. Different from their neighbors in culture, language, demographic structure, history, and education level, the Roma are a group facing racial discrimination, unemployment, and health problems (Guy 1975, 2001; Barany 1994, 2000; UNDP 2002; Džambarovič and Jurášková 2002; Schiffel 2005; Varmeersch 2010).

      There are various estimates of the size of the Roma population in Europe, varying between nine and twelve million (EC 2004; ERRC 1999; Grienig 2010). There are 107,210 people declaring Roma nationality in Slovakia according to the 2010 census,31 but these data are considered...

  10. PART II
    • Chapter four Rudňany: A Tale of the Old Liabilities
      (pp. 69-98)

      Rudňany is a small village facing big problems. It is situated in the eastern part of the Slovak Republic, approximately 14 kilometers from the town of Spišská Nová Ves. Its main attraction is an old abandoned tower with a mining lift in the very center of the valley surrounded by the nice two-story houses of the local inhabitants. Rudňany is situated in a valley surrounded by forests. Most of them partly damaged by industrial production in the past. If you enter the village by the main road from the nearest town of Spišská Nová Ves, the first thing you see...

    • Chapter five The Svinka River: People, Water and the Environment
      (pp. 99-130)

      The Svinka River’s upper watershed region is located in the northeastern part of Slovakia. This area has traditionally served as a source of labor for the nearby cities of Prešov and Košice. Its agricultural land of low hills and forests was not used for industrial production. Cooperative farms and the state-owned Forest Management Company were the main sources of employment for those who did not want to commute or resettle. The region has been going through significant economic and social transformation since the beginning of the 1990s. This transformation meant new economic and life opportunities for some and a worsening...

    • Chapter six A Regional Snapshot Overview
      (pp. 131-148)

      Findings and outcomes of the two case studies described in this book may have represented the very specific situation of the Roma communities in the Rudňany and upper Svinka River Watershed region. However, I was also interested in determining whether the situation there is representative of a broader pattern of environmental discrimination and unequal treatment or whether they represent a specific situation and extreme pattern that deviates from (otherwise) equal environmental conditions of the Roma minority in Slovakia.

      To address these questions, regional survey was designed to provide a snapshot overview of the situation of Roma in the eastern part...

  11. PART III
    • Chapter seven Patterns of Environmental (In)justice
      (pp. 151-164)

      Preceding chapters provided illustration of the situation in particular settlements, evidence of differentiated exposure to the environmental risks, and unequal access to environmental goods. This chapter attempts to conceptualize outcomes of the research about environmental justice in Slovakia.

      The cases of local disparities and unequal treatment identified and analyzed confirme my initial hypotheses formulated in the beginning of this endeavor: If we look at social and ethnic characteristics of the people impacted by the unequal exposure to environmental harm (or possessing limited access to environmental benefits) in more detail, we find that there are significant differences between the non-Roma majority...

    • Chapter eight Roma? Not in My Backyard
      (pp. 165-182)

      The patterns described in the previous chapter represent four specific types of unequal distribution of environmental benefits and harm. Although different in forms and scope, they share several common features. They are the outcome of division in the villages, where through social processes the weaker group (Roma) is unequally exposed to adverse environmental impacts or has limited access to environmental benefits. With a bit of exaggeration, the location of settlements, management of natural resources or waste is an outcome of the cold war over the space in villages and the environment plays an important role in the struggle. I identify...

    • Chapter nine Trends and Reverting the Trends
      (pp. 183-218)

      I have attempted to provide in the previous chapters picture of the Roma minority vis-à-vis distribution of the environmental benefits and harms, and contexts in which decisions are taken and trends shaped. This chapter takes different approach and discusses how to address the trends and how to reverse various economic, social, and environmental factors that contribute to environmental injustice. In other words, what are the options for addressing current and for preventing future inequalities in the distribution of environmental benefits and harm? The focus is on the ways to challenge the broader economic and social environment that enables the unequal...

  12. Annex. Shifts in Approaches
    (pp. 219-222)
  13. References
    (pp. 223-232)
  14. Index
    (pp. 233-237)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 238-238)