An exploration of the well-being and health status of Roma living in a "nomad camp" in Scampia, Naples

  • Elisabetta Vivaldi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study focuses on health and well-being amongst the Roma community in the “Old Camp” settlement in the Neapolitan Municipality of Scampia. The research is based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork carried out in the camp, amongst Romani residents and non-Romani people who played a role in the life and health of the camp’s inhabitants.

The study is informed by the World Health Organization’s (1946) holistic definition of health, and by work on the social dimensions of health which has grown following Marmot and Wilkinson’s (1998) seminal volume. These approaches see health not just in clinical terms, but rather understand well-being as including physical, psychological and social dimensions which are inextricably linked.

The study argues that Roma communities should not be perceived as unique “monolithic” populations, but as being composed of individuals, with personal thoughts, feelings and perceptions, different ways of leading their lives and different life experiences including recent migration histories; struggles to exercise their right as asylum-seekers; and conflicts resulting from being born in a territory that does not easily recognise their right to citizenship.

During fieldwork, Roma explained their personal perceptions of wellness and illness and of the impact of state and local policies on their well-being. Key-findings were that Roma’s sense of well-being is affected by racism, discrimination, and intercommunal mistrust which has adverse effects on relationships between Roma communities and government agencies. A further significant finding was that there are generational tensions within the Roma community, opening the possibility of changes in communal customs and structures.

By presenting the perceptions of the Romani themselves regarding their well-being, and their congruence with a holistic approach to health and well-being rather than a narrowly clinical one, the study may inform effective health policies at a local, national and international level.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
  • Buckinghamshire New University
SupervisorBarbara Humberstone (Supervisor), Margaret Greenfields (Supervisor) & Keelin Howard (Supervisor)

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