29 October 2019

Anthropologist contributes with knowledge about Roma to the Council of Europe


Anthropologist Camilla Ida Ravnbøl is behind civil society reports about the Roma living in Denmark.

Camilla Ida Ravnbøl, post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute of Anthropology, has written a series of civil society reports on the conditions of Roma minorities in Denmark, and these reports contributes to initiatives developed by the European Commission.
Ravnbøl has also recently met with representatives from the Council of Europe (CoE) to elaborate on her qualitative research, in order to provide input to the upcoming CoE country report on Denmark (Advisory Commitee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities).
In Denmark, ethnic data sets are not collected, and hence we know little about the livelihoods and living conditions of the Roma.
Camilla Ida Ravnbøl explains, how there is limited research on the subject, and no Roma civil society organization are active in Denmark. However, her qualitative research indicates that many Roma in Denmark experience discrimination and prejudice based on poverty and ethnicity.

Experience prejudices

Camilla Ida Ravnbøl has extensively followed a group of Romanian Roma, who live under conditions of homelessness in Copenhagen. As a part of her continuing fieldwork and in relation to the two reports for the EU Commission, she has also interviewed Danish Roma women and men.

- Many Danish Roma live an everyday life just like many other Danes – they work from 8-16, and have school and leisure activities. Many Danish Roma experience prejudice against them where people believe that all Roma are poor beggars, says Dr. Ravnbøl.

The Danish Roma that Dr. Ravnbøl interviewed also describe experiences of discrimination as immigrants from countries in the Balkan area, as well as being Roma. One of her interlocutors said:

- The problem is that we are a minority within the minority. We are immigrants, but if I tell another immigrant, an Arab or a Turkish person, that I am Roma, then he gives me a skeptical look. Then I feel their prejudice […] it feels is as if I have to convince people twice that I am good enough (implied as an immigrant and as a Roma man). (Interlocutor, data of interview).

According to a YouGov study (2015), approximately 70 percent of Danes have a negative perception of the Roma minority. Dr. Ravnbøl argues that a biased and stereotypical portrayal of the Roma in Danish media is partly responsible for these stereotypes.

- The media disregards the mundane normalcy in many Danish Roma families, who have lunch sandwiches and kitchen discussions on the next national election. And it is precisely in these portrayals of their everyday lives, where social bridges can be built and prejudice can be confronted, Camilla Ida Ravnbøl argues.