The book argues that the frontier, usually associated with the era of colonial conquest, has great, continuing and under explored relevance to the Caribbean region. Identifying the frontier as a moral, ideational and physical boundary between what is imagined as civilization and wilderness, the book seeks to extend frontier analysis by focusing on the Eastern Caribbean multi island state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The continuing relevance of the concept of frontier, and allied notions of civilization and wilderness, are illuminated through an analysis of the ways in which SVG is perceived and experienced by both outsiders to the society and its insiders. Using literary sources, biographies and autobiography, the book shows how St. Vincent is imagined and made sense of as a modern frontier; a society in the balance between an imposed civilized order and an untameable wild that always encroaches, whether in the form of social dislocation, the urban presence of the ‘Wilderness people’ or illegal marijuana farming in the northern St. Vincent hills. The frontier as examined here has historically been and remains very much a global production. Simultaneously, it is argued that contemporary processes of globalization shape the development of tourism and finance sectors, as well as patterns of migration, they connect to shifting conceptions of the civilized and the wild, and have implications for the role of the state and politics in frontier societies.
The crisis around the movement of people at Europe's borders is matched by similar contestations, albeit less visible, around the position and movement of minorities within Europe; specifically, Romani minorities. While Romani minorities have not come from ‘anywhere else’, they have, nonetheless, often been considered strangers among citizens. This is the central argument of Julija Sardelić's stunning new book, The fringes of citizenship: Romani minorities in Europe and civic marginalisation. Essentially, Sardelić is concerned to find out why rights, formally guaranteed by institutions at the European Union level and nationally, both fail to protect Roma and fail to address their social and political marginalisation.
Sardelić argues that the processes by way of which the marginalisation of Roma occur are not exceptional; rather, similar policies are in use globally in relation to other minorities. Consequently, she deftly locates the treatment of Roma as marginalised citizens within a broader, global perspective. This is done through the concept of the ‘invisible edges of citizenship’ where, as she argues, ‘marginalised minorities are manifestly included as a special group but yet latently marginalised as citizens’. This distinctive formulation enables her to examine a diversity of experiences within a common framework. More significantly, it points to the ways in which difference is not simply excluded, and also sheds light on how it is constructed as a justification of the exclusion.
In The fringes of citizenship: Romani minorities in Europe and civic marginalisation, Sardelić superbly mobilises her analysis of the civic marginalisation of Roma to investigate the concept of citizenship itself. In this way, she addresses one of the key concerns of the Theory for a Global Age series, of which this book is part, namely, to rethink the concepts and categories central to disciplinary understandings from the experiences of those who are rarely made central to such processes. This book is a powerful illustration of the urgency and efficacy of undertaking such a task and the new avenues – political and scholarly – that open up in the process. It is compelling analysis that has the potential to reshape our understandings of citizenship.
Gurminder K. Bhambra
University of Sussex