chapter  14
Racing for the Audience: National Identity, Public TV and the Roma in Post-Socialist Slovenia
ByKSENIJA VIDMAR-HORVAT
Pages 16

The chapter explores the role of national public television in the construction of Slovenian national identity in post-socialism. In particular, it addresses the implication of public broadcasting in the processes of ethnic renationalization and the homogenization of collective identity after the collapse of Yugoslavia and, related to this, its politics of representation of the Roma minority. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, the Roma have been pushed to the margins of national society where, as a collective subject, they occupy the position of the permanent stranger (Kuhar 2006, Petković 2002, Vidmar-Horvat et al. 2008). The estrangement of the Roma from the national territory has taken many shapes, most of them expressed in derogatory racist rhetoric but also demands for actual expulsions and the destruction of Roma settlements (Erjavec et al. 2000, Vidmar-Horvat et al. 2008, Vidmar-Horvat 2009). In this analysis, the focus is as much on the overt as on the symbolic violence and “polite,” “non-racist” forms of racism (van Dijk 1993, Downing and Husband 2005, Fiske 1996, Hall 1990) in which Roma are made into aliens of the national community. My argument is that non-explicit racism, or “inferential racism,” as Stuart Hall calls it, especially demands our critical attention because, as far as the Roma in Slovenia are concerned, it is usually articulated with “good intentions”—allegedly to help the Roma in adjusting to the majority society. In order to demonstrate the joint labor of racist and “non-racist” racism, I take under scrutiny public TV Slovenia. The intent of the analysis is to show, with the help of the selected case study of the infotainment program Pyramid, how in the ideological landscape of the national television, rude forms of racism against the Roma have been publicly deemed as improper, while polite Romophobia continues to function as the politically acceptable terrain on which the dominant ethnic community of Slovenes is being constructed. As the analysis of the particular program also reveals, gender plays a visible role in negotiating the racism that is seen by television as acceptable to the public.