Patchwork Economies in Europe: Economic Strategies Among Homeless Romanian Roma in Copenhagen
Postdoc Camilla Ida Ravnbøl has recently published a chapter in the book Constructing Roma Migrants. European Narratives and Local Governance. The book presents a cross-disciplinary insight and policy analysis into the effects of European legal and political frameworks on the life of ‘Roma migrants’ in Europe.
The chapter written by Camilla Ida Ravnbøl is titled ’Patchwork Economies in Europe: Economic Strategies Among Homeless Romanian Roma in Copenhagen’ and investigates the economic strategies of a group of Romanian Roma, who live in homelessness in Copenhagen. It draws on 13 months of anthropological fieldwork with Roma women and men who migrate continuously between Denmark and Romania and who mainly make a living by collecting refundable bottles and cans in Copenhagen. They refer to themselves as badocari, which translates to “bottle people” in Romanian. The chapter proposes the concept of “patchwork economy” to frame the micro economic strategies that the badocari engage in. The analogy of patchwork crafting serves to illustrate how the households’ economies rest upon a constant “stitching together” of various unreliable income sources that are scrap based and have no interconnection, but due to their unreliability and minor revenue cannot stand alone to support the family. Furthermore, it illustrates how debt constitutes the background quilt against which the patchwork economy is continuously reconfigured. Finally, the chapter presents analytical insight into the interconnectedness between the micro economy of the Roma household and the broader social and political context of Romania and argues that the former should be regarded as a direct response to the latter.
Camilla Ida Ravnbøl, Patchwork Economies in Europe: Economic Strategies Among Homeless Romanian Roma in Copenhagen, Constructing Roma Migrants. European Narratives and Local Governance, Springer, 2019.