UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Virtual Event: Absence is presence – the strange case of Polish Roma migrations

03 June 2020, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm


Absence is presence – the strange case of Polish Roma migrations. Some thoughts on the untold side of migrations from Poland. Join us for a seminar by Dr Michał P. Garapich, (University of Roehampton)

This event is free.

Event Information

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The vast volume of research on migration from Poland, in particularly to the United Kingdom has omitted one, quite specific group of migrants from that country. Interestingly, this is also an ethnic minority that despite living in Poland, give or take, over half of millenium is notoriously marginalized, absent in dominant historical accounts and presently brushed aside as a small, but persistent ‘social problem’. This talk will present findings from an ongoing pioneering anthropological project looking at Polish Roma transnational migration. The concurrent academic and social exclusion of this group’s mobility isn’t a coincidence. The Polish state’s and society’s silent acceptance of this (largest since the emigration of Polish Jews in 1968) ethnic exodus demonstrates attempts to frame ideologically constructed ethnic homogeneity of Polish society in normative terms. Expulsion of migrating Polish Roma from academic discourse is thus linked with postcolonial legacy of studies of Roma in Poland, constructing them as either an ‘outsider’ nomad, who is on the way out, or marginal, immobile, and unable to integrate member of a culture ‘without history’. Needless to say, this has little to do with what Polish Roma today do, think and how they make sense of the lives they lead, which often today span between several countries. In my talk, I will show the historical continuities of migration of Polish Roma, beginning from late 80s. Bearing in mind the heterogeneity of Roma culture and diverse groups with different lineages and traditions, compared with other Roma from the region the case of Polish Roma is quite distinct. Overall, this talk’s aim is to put Roma mobilities – history and present - at the heart of how current EU migrations are framed in political and academic discourse.

This event will be available to watch on Zoom.  Please ensure you register for a space.

About the Speaker

Dr Michał P. Garapich

Dr Michał P. Garapich, is a social anthropologist, senior lecturer at the University of Roehampton, cooperating also with the University of Warsaw Centre for Migration Research. He has published numerous pieces on migration from Poland to the UK, including a monograph London’s Polish Borders. His most recent book, Dzieci Kazimierza published by Wydawnictwo Czarne, has just been awarded the History Book award by Tygodnik Polityka.