The article draws on research on stateless diasporas in the EU I carried out with Elena Fiddian Qasmiyeh and Barzoo Eliassi for the Leverhulme-funded Oxford Diasporas Programme.
This article is an invitation to reflect sociologically on statelessness, to date mostly absent from an otherwise burgeoning sociological debate on citizenship, rights, and legal status. Millions of stateless people worldwide confirm the need for a more nuanced understanding of contemporary forms of membership attentive to the interplay of different rights regimes. While the article characterizes the Roma as the undeserving stateless, so alien to the dominant imagination of citizenship as to be even denied access to the procedure for status recognition, it also argues that the experience of Roma families who have lived for years in Italy in absence of any formal citizenship complicates Hannah Arendt’s insightful characterization of stateless people as rightless. The lack of any citizenship does not make the Roma bare life, it reveals instead political subjectivity as an embodied and emplaced process, where subjects actively negotiate their position in the world and vis-à-vis the state.