“After all, they are nomads, aren’t they?”: Roma transnationalism and health issues

by Lorenzo Alunni

Working Papers WP 12-20
October 2012
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf

For Roma groups living in Italy, nomadism is a trait that is simultaneously externally attributed to them as a “cultural typical characteristic” and shaped by the state, while also determining groups’ transnational dynamics as an internal response to the power technologies that Roma encounter in the field of healthcare. In this context, medical transnationalism plays a role in the personal networks of Roma citizens who prefer to travel to the countries of their families’ origin for healing purposes rather than rely on the Italian public health system due to their problematic relationships with it. This configuration leads subjects to a forced integration of multiple complementary and incomplete medical approaches (the Italian health system, that of their origin country, their cultural approach to the body, etc.), resulting in a medical fragmentation directly shaped by the Roma’s precarious forms of citizenship and the public policies developed to address their issues. The aim of this text is to analyse, through an ethnographic case, how health policies participate in the construction of a state of permanent exception nourished by the forced mobility of people engaged in a settling process.

Lorenzo Alunni received his PhD in Social Anthropology in 2012 from the University of Perugia (Italy) and the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense (France), in joint direction. He obtained his BA and MB at the University of Perugia and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociale (EHESS, Paris). He is currently a short-term Visiting Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. His research interests include social inequalities in health, the government of life, and humanitarianism.