According to the 1930 census, the ethnic groups represented 22.39% of the population of Bucharest: in 2011, they represented only 2.36%. In a way, one can say that present-day Bucharest is ten times less multi-ethnic than the interwar one.
On the other hand, the massive Romanian emigration prevented us from observing the first waves of migration and, all the more so, to understand its nature. Bucharest is currently a city with an unstable, but increasing number of foreigners, which often represent new ethnic minorities. This research tries to offer a more comprehensive image of some of these ethnic groups in order to contribute to a better understanding of this recent phenomenon, which has already started to change the life of Bucharest: on the one hand, at the business level, through the significant presence of “foreigners” in corporations, or as small or medium entrepreneurs, and on the other hand, in everyday life, especially through the appearance of alternative diets.
What is essential and has also been confirmed by this research is the fact that there is a difference of nature between the old and the current “multi-ethnicity”, between the (relatively) stable historic ethnicities in the past century and the (relatively) volatile circumstantial ones of today . In the current case, their own registration is problematic due to their variable geometry, which makes it difficult to clearly separate between the ones “established” in the capital and the ones that are only in “passing”.
In many of the investigated cases, not even the subjects were decided in which category they should fall.
Another important element is the lack of a structural rejection from Bucharest’s residents. Institutionally, although there are clearer regulations, the bureaucratic apparatus does not work properly and there were different instances of dissatisfaction registered in this regard. At the level of interpersonal relations with Bucharest locals, the opinions of foreigners are usually positive. In this regard, it is important to underline that these relations are practical and perceived at interpersonal level and not inter-ethnic or inter-confessional one. We shall see what the future brings…
On the other hand, there isn’t a social representation yet of the “new minorities” in Bucharest. The “Western people” are not seen as forming communities, but as individuals, more as members of corporations than as members of the society. The „new minorities” are only non-Europeans – but they are currently unnoticed in Bucharest. More present in the collective mental are the Chinese, on the one hand, due to the quite high and visible punctual concentrations, and the Turks, due to both their high number, and to a historical memory used with their presence. The rest eventually fall in “others”: there is little, if anything, known about the Indian or Lebanese people.
Apart from a new intrusion into the intimate universe of certain “ethnic minorities”, this research also represents (by chance!) a sort of milestone for the dramatic changes that the “refugee crisis” is about to produce in Romania as well.