Home-Land: Romanian Roma, Domestic Spaces and the State

In her acclaimed new book, Dr Rachel Humphris seeks to open up new questions for academic and political debates about citizenship, migration and belonging.

Home-Land: Romanian Roma, Domestic Spaces and the State is based on 14 months ethnographic fieldwork living with Europe’s most marginalised migrants – those identified as Roma. Dr Humphris traces how these migrants were governed from the perspective of living within their homes and also accompanying the frontline workers they met as they tried to make a home in the UK. She also researched how these frontline workers engaged with migrants and how marginalisation worked to define and filter different types of migrants from within their own home effectively making their home-land as a border-land.

Crucially, the fine-grained ethnographic analysis in this book means that frontline workers are not demonised, but unpacks the impossible dilemmas they face. The book explores their positions as marginalised women themselves who have been put in a position to do the ‘dirty work’ of border control while grappling with austerity and shifting logics of service provision guided by marketization and public-private partnerships. This book unravels in novel ways of how the state governs intimate lives but also the intimate life of the state itself. 

Dr Humphris argues that governance takes place through uncertainty and confusion, which allows frontline workers to maintain a coherent moral standpoint while enacting painful acts of exclusion. Governance through uncertainty allows sentiment to overtake rights.  Home-Land fills a gap in the literature by bringing together urban marginality, race and migration through in-depth ethnographic account of the mechanisms and effect of the welfare-immigration nexus.