The Duck of Minerva

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Monday Linkage: Roma and race links

October 28, 2013

The recent ‘Maria’ case- involving a young blonde girl taken from a Roma family and found to be the daughter of a Bulgarian Roma couple- has inspired greater scrutiny of Roma communities.  More specifically, there have been subsequent cases of children taken from their Roma families because they did not ‘look’ Roma; however subsequent DNA tests confirmed the children to be the ‘legitimate’ biological children of their parents. A recent Spectator post calls the cases: a clash of “two great hysterias…racism and child-snatching, the Guardian’s obsession versus the Sun’s.” These cases have inspired interesting debate about race and family and shed light on a ‘new’ kind of racial profiling. As Lindy West at Jezebel recently put it “The cultural complexities here are daunting. “We noticed your kid didn’t look like you, so we took it” seems like it sets a bonkers precedent.”

Despite targeting blonde children within Roma communities, and the recent Irish police ‘blunder’ involving the removal of a blonde child from its biological family, the Irish government has claimed that there is no racial profiling taking place in these communities. This process of removing children from their home and placing them in the care of the state, while forcing parents to undergo DNA tests, has been raised as an invasion of both the parents and the child’s rights. Human rights groups are calling for an independent investigation of the cases.

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Megan MacKenzie is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney in Australia. Her main research interests include feminist international relations, gender and the military, the combat exclusion for women, the aftermaths of war and post-conflict resolution, and transitional justice. Her book Beyond the Band of Brothers: the US Military and the Myth that Women Can't Fight comes out with Cambridge University Press in July 2015.