Roma Health Mediators: A Neocolonial Tool for the Reinforcement of Epistemic Violence?



Published Dec 11, 2020
Ioanna Petraki


Scientific articles in medical journals regarding Roma have produced a type of problematic consensus narrative that is reinforced through its formulaic repetition. Roma health mediator (RHM) programs seem to have evolved from and currently be part of this consensus narrative. In this article I examine the potential use of RHMs, even if unintended, as a neocolonial tool for the reinforcement of epistemic violence against Roma, using a critical analysis of four empirical stories from the field. I explore the above hypothesis through critical reflexive anthropology, and postcolonial and intersectional studies, as well as by using elements of the self-ethnographic approach. I argue that the epistemic violence can be seen as resulting from the interplay between the Subject (i.e., health professional or researcher), the Object (i.e., Roma as “Other”), and the practices that result (i.e., discourse or consensus narrative production through the interpretation of the scientific data). I conclude with tools that could help reduce the epistemic violence against Roma within the health sector, suchas cross-disciplinary collaboration, participatory action research (PAR), (self-)reflection, critical theory, and the dialogic creation of scientific knowledge.

How to Cite

Petraki, I. (2020). Roma Health Mediators: A Neocolonial Tool for the Reinforcement of Epistemic Violence?. Critical Romani Studies, 3(1), 72-95.



Roma Health Mediators, Reflexive anthropology, Critical and postcolonial theory, Epistemic violence, Governmentality