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Unwanted «Gypsies». The restriction of cross-border mobility and the stigmatisation of Romani families in interwar Western Europe

  • Abstract

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This article analyses the convergence of European anti-Gypsy policies between the wars. It calls up for examination the attempts at rapprochement and the first stages of transnational collaboration before World War One, as well as the role played by cross-border movement in consolidating a stereotypical image of the 'Gypsy' as a category. The failure of immigration control policies in the 1920s and the diplomatic crises occasioned by a number of notable incidents at the Franco-Belgian border led to an international agreement to put an end to movement that brought into question the sovereign order of nation states. A deeper analysis of these agreements and of the legal terms employed shows the application of particular police regulation in cases of specific families and a considerable investment on the part of the highest police authorities in the resolution of a what had become a national question. The final section analyses the effects of these regulations on Romani families' future: the eroding of their social conditions, and the endless exile to which some found themselves condemned.

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