Bordering and rights to the city: the case of a multiethnic neighborhood in Budapest

Room F
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
08.30 – 10.15
bordering, ethnic segregation, exclusion, roma issues, urban renewal

The paper is concerned with Roma rights to the city and how socio-ethnic issues have been framed in conjunction with urban development. We will analyse the way in which local urban renewal policies have dealt with the challenge of multi-ethnicity in central Budapest, through among others, practises of border-making. How these urban development practises can be evaluated in the context of European tendencies? How local policies vis-à-vis Roma minorities circumvent European objectives concerning the empowerment of Roma communities? 

Our research is based on an empirical study conducted in a traditionally multi-ethnic area in the 8th District of Budapest. Magdolna neighbourhood became the focus of Budapest’s first socially integrative urban renewal programme, financed since 2007, by EU structural funds. This is the poorest part of Budapest’s inner city, often represented as the “Roma ghetto of capital” although “ghettoization” is limited to some streets. The neighbourhood is becoming more multicultural and first signs of gentrification can be discerned.

The most important results of our work indicate that the visible effects of the integrated urban renewal programme cannot hide the political intention of local government to change the neighbourhood’s character and with it its present population. The aim is clearly to gradually push out visibly “problematic” groups, poor Roma families in particular, by redrawing social and spatial borders between the different ethnic and social groups that live in the neighbourhood 

Krisztina Keresztely
kerkrisz [at]
James W Scott
University of Eastern Finland
jscott4636 [at]
Tünde Virág

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