This course will provide insights into the main structural factors and currents in education in local communities that contribute to the significantly lower educational attainments of poor Roma students as compared to their, equally impoverished, non-Roma peers. It will be shown that the lower educational results and the subsequent departures in career paths of Roma are to a great extent the products of processes of racializing their poverty and considering it as their special ‘ethnic characteristic’ that allegedly explains underachievement. For this purpose, the course will offer an introduction into the concepts and the methodology of understanding different manifestations of poverty partly through familial interviews and partly through analyzing representations of the problem in films and documentaries. This endeavor will serve to show how segregation and exclusion (in and across schools) endow Roma poverty with certain particular traits and how these manifestations of ethnic separation also facilitate its enclosure into the institutionalized arrangements of separated physical and mental spaces. In the next step, Roma poverty will be viewed through the lenses of influential representatives of the non-Roma majority. After preparing the methodology and discussing certain typical dilemmas in approaching them, representatives of the educational offices of municipalities, local decision-makers, school principals, teachers and social workers will be interviewed about their experiences when working with Roma and non-Roma poor, and also their views and explanations of segregation vs. color-blind integration and inclusion will be explored. Additionally, these institutional interviews will serve to reveal the play of broader interests behind ethnic separation in education that will lead us to understand Roma exclusion in the contexts of power and representation. In order to see these associations in their empirical manifestations, attempts will be made to invite students and a group of teachers and parents of the local schools to listen to their arguments in favor/against ethnic segregation. In the last phase of the course, the collected field-material will be processed in class with the aim to put together the different sides of the prism and this way revealing the mechanisms of the racialization of Roma poverty and exclusion in education as deeply ingrained into the hierarchization and ongoing competition that dominate the social struggles around schooling.
Fieldwork will take place in the 8th district of Budapest, a part of the city with a high percentage of Roma among the inhabitants.
In order to tackle language difficulties, all foreign students will be assisted by a Hungarian-speaking partner throughout their work on the field.
The course will run in the Spring semester of the current academic year. The format will be daily classes and field visits between April 27 – May 8, 2015.
Although students are welcome to register for this course independently from earlier training in Roma issues, attending the preceding course on ‘Sociological Approaches of Race and Ethnicity: The Roma in Postcommunist Central Europe’ will render the advantage of a deeper understanding of the theories and practices of poverty and racialization and their impacts on education.