Roma Workers under Czech Racial Capitalism: A Post-Socialist Case Study
Author: Barbora Černušáková
This article contributes to the theory of racial capitalism by focusing on racialization of labor in the post-socialist context. Drawing on fieldwork conducted with Roma workers in the city of Ostrava, the Czech Republic, the paper investigates the role of the Czech state in confining Roma to low-paid, precarious and informal work—and how dynamics of racialization figure in this relationship. State policies like job placement programs, I claim, explicitly target Roma workers, channelling them into stigmatized and low paying positions, reproducing racial prejudices and confining them to precarious and often dangerous work. Using the category of “racialized surplus population,” I examine the functionalist relationship between racialization and capitalism in the Czech Republic, which I argue is manifest both economically—enabling capital to rely on racialized workers as a reserve army of labor—and politically, as the exclusion of Roma from the white proletariat mediates class conflict.