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Paradoxical spaces of Traveller citizenship in contemporary Ireland

Una Crowley, Rob Kitchin


In this paper we examine the role of law in shaping the socio-spatial lives of citizens through an examination of the changing nature of govemmentality with respect to Travellers in Ireland between 1998 and 2003. Undertaking an analysis of the policy process, new legislation, the Citizen Traveller campaign, media reports, and interviews with politicians, police and Travellers, we document how the Irish government attempted during this period to shift its strategy of dealing with the 'Traveller problem' from a regulationist form of citizenship designed to force Travellers to adopt a sedentary lifestyle, to active citizenship that offered Travellers recognition, rewards and rights in return for managed nomadism or sedentary conformism. However, rather than leading to the emancipation and empowerment the Irish government envisaged, we detail how failings by both the government and Travellers in implementing reform has perpetuated the original situation and paradoxically led to new legislation that further criminalizes Traveller lifestyle and strengthened the government's mandate to forcibly manage Travellers' lives.

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