Constructing human rights of Roma migrants

This project aims to grasp the construction of human rights for Roma migrants in discourses within the public sphere that arise after human rights violations.

Supervision: Prof. dr. Lexley Hustinx

Researcher: Chloë Delcour

Sponsored by FWO (2013-2018)

Situated within a social constructionist perspective on human rights, this research aims to grasp the construction of human rights for Roma migrants in discourses within the public sphere that arise after human rights violations. Roma migrants form a group of people for which human rights are still highly contested, hence it is interesting to study the construction of their human rights in concrete instances of human rights violations. On the one hand, we study the discourse in transnational juridical, political and civil society actors’ general reports on violations of human rights against Roma. On the other hand, we analyze newspaper debates that arose in the aftermath of two specific cases of evictions and expulsions of Roma migrants; the Čonka v. Belgium case and the COHRE v. France case. We argue that the media constitutes a significant site for publicly sustained constructions of human rights and thus wrongly remains understudied. Our research is characterized by a focus on the interaction of multiple actors involved in human rights issues and of their constructions. In this way, we address some important shortcomings within the existing research on human rights practice: the focus on one type of actor and the presuppositions about which kinds of actors are important, and the lack of in-depth discourse analysis with attention for contradictions and tensions. We analyze the discourses through a set of different discourse analytical techniques, including narrative analysis, frame analysis and critical discourse analysis.

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