Unwanted Strangers explores the geographical and social bordering practices through the lived experiences of Ukrainian Roma refugees in Poland. Amidst the outpouring of solidarity, volunteering and benevolence for Ukrainians fleeing the Russia-Ukraine conflict, there have been cases pointing to the segregation of Ukrainian Roma refugees.
We understand bordering as manifesting in not perceiving Roma refugees as Ukrainian citizens. Thus, the research considers anti-Roma affect and actions as a social bordering everyday practice, whereby Roma are treated differently because they are seen as outsiders. The study investigates how local solidarity initiatives emerge, shift, wane or are not available, while interrogating notions of resilience in racialised migration among Ukrainian Roma refugees.
Unwanted Strangers considers questions about the deservingness of solidarity, answers to which can be crucial elements in understanding forced migrations and social differences. The study investigates how social bordering transpires through local solidarity initiatives, such as the provision of accommodation, humanitarian aid, and access to mainstream services.
While addressing the emergency context of Ukrainian Roma refugees in Poland, the research also seeks to analyse the unfolding of social bordering over time, past and present, and how it intersects with notions of resilience. Fleeing the current conflict in addition to previous experiences of social inequality, stigma, discrimination and the detrimental impacts of the COVID-19 crisis represents a chain of traumatic events, and the research aims to present unseen and rarely reflected realities of urgency.
- To produce an understanding of the contemporary contexts merged with historical inequalities leading to discrimination of Ukrainian Roma refugees.
- To make findings translatable for policy engagement and to produce community-specific recommendations for intervention, support, facilitation, and settlement of Ukrainian Roma refugees.
- To foster new thinking of social and political bordering and to consider its impacts on minoritized groups and migrants.
- To explore alternative narratives and new insights into solidarity and humanitarianism.
Dr Iliana Sarafian is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Public Authority and International Development at FLIA, LSE. Iliana’s research is in the fields of minority health and wellbeing, gender, ethnicity, and social inequalities in European contexts.
Research interests: Resilience, gender, social inequality, ethnicity, European Roma populations.
Region of focus: UK, Poland, Italy, Bulgaria.
Co-researcher: Agnieszka Caban, University of Warsaw
The study is supported by the British Academy/Leverhulme Small grants (SRG22\220997).
Thumbnail image: © Centre for Intercultural Dialogue, Poland