EDIT SZENASSY, then a student at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, was awarded a grant in October 2009, to aid research on 'Governing Romani Women's Bodies: Between Everyday Reproductive Decisions and Population Politics in Slovakia,' supervised by Dr. Jaroslav Skupnik. High fetility rates of Romani/Gypsy women are portrayed by some public actors in Slovakia as a burden on society or welfare system. Facing diverse forms of discrimination and violence including impeded access to healthcare, Romani women's wombs have historically been of grave concern to state power, and continue being regarded as a 'time bomb' bound to explode as presently Romani births outnumber those of the Slovak majority. Between 1977 and 1991, special benefits were granted in return for Romani women's voluntary sterilization, however, recent scandals indicate that many of the operations during this period were neither voluntary, nor performed with due consent. The results of this fieldwork research indicate that the coerced sterilization of Romani women continued into the mid-2000s. This project examined Romani women's reproductive decision-making and its tensions with Slovak population politics. Its central focus was an ethnographic research based on participant observation into current reproductive practices among Romani women in a poor segregated Roma slum in East Slovakia. It explored the intricate positions women, their kinship networks, health professionals, and authorities take, with the aim of revealing and understanding their potentially conflicting interests. The ethnographer was situated in a politically and ethically loaded field, as she attempted to analyze the ramifications intertwining the state, nationalism, and the politics and poetics of reproduction.
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Szenassy, Edit, Charles U., Prague, Czech Republic - To aid research on 'Governing Romani Women's Bodies: Between Everyday Reproductive Decisions and Population Politics in Slovakia,' supervised by Dr. Jaroslav Skupnik