The Roma by uMYwGu


									    The Roma
Everywhere and Nowhere
   No traditional homeland
   Commonly referred to as ‘Gypsies’
   Extremely unique culture
    • High degree of variation
   Speak many different languages
   Practice many different religions
   ~12-15 million Romani across the globe
   Still discriminated against and marginalized
    by more dominant cultures
    • Particularly in Europe, which is where the
      majority of them reside
    • This type of treatment is unfortunately one of the
      only common threads that binds different
      populations of Romani

   Linguistics:
   The Romani Language is composed
    primarily of Greek and Sanskrit
   Terminology
    • Rom = individual member of the group
    • Roma = the group as a whole
    • Romani = the name of the spoken language
               as well as a general adjective
             History of Migration
   The Roma most likely originated in
    Northern India
    • May have been related to a large
      movement of musicians into Persia
    • Probably took place roughly 1000 years
         Instigated by a large scale Islamic military
          invasion of their homeland
         The Roma may have been attached to the
          defending Indian armies as servants and
           History of Migration
   The creation of the early Roma cultural
    identity occurred during this initial migration
    into Persia
   Traveled along the Silk Road learning new
    languages and adopting new customs
   Most likely were a nomadic people in their
    early years
   The Roma were again forced to move as the
    result of further Islamic expansion
    • Migrated into the Byzantine Empire (Turkey and
    • This time period is when Romani culture truly
      expanded and evolved
             History of Migration
   Migration into Europe
    • The persecution of the Roma may
      originate with a case of mistaken
    • The Roma may have been confused with
      another group of unrelated people living
      in Byzantium at the same time who had
      similar interests and occupations
         This group was referred to as ‘untouchable’
          in Greek by local populations
          History of Migration
   Migration into Europe (cont)
    • Settled in Grecian Islands and were well
      known musicians, performers, and
    • When the Roma moved into present day
      Romania, they began to encounter more
      severe persecution
          History of Migration
   The Roma moved into Romania as a
    result of the numerous trade routes
    that led into this area
   Lots of economic possibilities
   Became the local working class of
    the Balkans
    • Valued, but still the lowest social class
          History of Migration
   Slavery
    • The Ottoman Empire conquered the
      area and demanded increasingly
      oppressive taxes from the local
    • In order to prevent the Romani from
      moving on into another area, they were
      enslaved primarily by 3 separate
   This resulted in three separate groups of
   These groups were defined by who owned
    • Monasteries
          Needed artisans
    • Landowners
    • The State
   All Roma were born into slavery during
    this period and were treated extremely
    • Could not marry amongst themselves without
    • Could not interact with free individuals
   This institutionalized slavery lasted
    for 500 years
   When they were finally freed (in
    1864) many fled into nearby
    Hungary and Russia
   Still victimized by oppression and
    bondage no matter where they went
    • Although the severity varied
         Valued as Royal Servants in Hungary
          History of Migration
   Western Europe
    • Briefly admired during this time period
      because pilgrimages were thought of as
      noble and respectable
    • However, most groups of Roma may
      have only been pretending to be
      pilgrims in order to receive a more
      tolerant welcome
             Western Europe
   Scholars of the 18th century identified the
    language of the Roma as being Indian in
   Prior to this people believed that the Roma
    had migrated from Egypt
    • Hence: Gypsies = Egyptian
   The Roma continued to spread throughout
    Western Europe
   Along the way the Roma were progressively
    expelled from or severely restricted in their
    activities by the local governments
    • Some were even denied access into towns
             Western Europe
   This persecution stems from the different
    languages spoken by the Roma as well as
    their ‘unusual’ ritual traditions
    • Of course skin color was also used as an excuse
      and the Roma had a generally darker skin tone
   The use of the ‘Pilgrim’ story during traveling
    no longer worked as well
    • Protestantism had begun its rise and made
      pilgrims less respected
    • Tighter controls on charity as well
            Western Europe
   Discrimination increased and
    increased over the centuries in
    Europe until the Roma had no where
    else to go
   They had to accept the situation
    wherever they ended up
   Some were even deported by
    European nations to their colonies
    • Resulted in spreading the Roma even
      further abroad
           The 19th Century
   Many Roma began to move overseas
    or to even more disparate locals
    during this time period
    • Places such as North and South
      America, Australia, and Africa
   These movements, as many of the
    Roma’s other migrations, were
    organized around family and trade
Romani Organization and Kinship
   There are 4 traditional tribes of the
   There is great variation between
    these groups
    • But there is no limitation on marrying
      between the groups
       Organization and Kinship
   These tribes are further divided into clans
    • These clans are usually named after a venerated
    • There is little day to day interaction on the clan
   Much of the regular interaction occurs at the
    level of the extended family
   There is also a group that is composed of
    individuals from many different families that
    come together for economic or political gain
    • This is called the Kumpánia
   The Kumpánia can be used to find a
    wife or husband
    • Marriage is also used to forge alliances
      within this group
   Specific customs vary widely
   Partners can select one another or
    the marriage can be arranged
   Ceremonies vary from very simple to
    multiple day affairs
        Traditional Occupations
   Divided into three different categories:

   Traditionally all the members of a Roma
    community will share a similar occupation
    • This system of organization may be a holdover
      from the traditional caste system present in
      India during the Roma’s origins
           Ritual Cleanliness
   Traditionally there are many rules and
    taboo’s related to cleanliness in the
    household, food preparation, personal
    hygiene, and childbirth
   However, these taboos must
    sometimes be left behind because of
    economic necessity or other situational
   Particularly true for a group with such a
    widely varied history of migration and
    persecution as the Roma
                    The Kris
   This ceremonial gathering is used as a
    way to settle disputes and determine
    appropriate punishments
   Several different judges from separate
    families are chosen
    • Always male
   Must be convened in a public place
   No appeals
   Can remove an individual from social life
    • This curtails the individuals livelihood and
      removes them from the social support network
          Traditional Religion
   Some scholars argue that there are
    Hindu influences that run across all
    Roma cultural beliefs
    • Can be seen in mythology and stories in
      some instances
   But, again, there is so much
    variation in religious belief among
    the different populations that
    commonalities are hard to find
                 The Mule
   The Mule are the ghosts of the dead in
    traditional Roma belief
   This idea cuts across many Roma
    • Then again it is common in many religions
   Cause illness and misfortune
   Can shift into numerous forms

   The body is displayed at home
   Never left alone
   Different specific rituals but that is a
    relatively common thread
    • Fairly long mourning period that can last
      up to a year
   Sometimes treasured possessions
    are placed in the casket as well
                      Modern Issues
   20th and 21st centuries
    • The use of biology to determine which races or
      groups of people were superior was prevalent during
      this period
    • Even more persecution followed for the Roma as a
      result of this
    • Various restrictions on movement and occupations
      were implemented across Europe
    • Tracking and registration policies were also
          Took place in France and Germany, among others
    • Persecuted along with many other groups during the
      rise of Nazism
          Of course, affected by the Holocaust along with numerous
           other ethnic and religious groups
            Modern Issues
   Under Communism some argue that
    the Roma benefited from the state
    controlled assimilation programs
   Many others disagree and believe that
    this only further distorted the Roma
   Of course this period of time saw
    harassment and hardship along the
    same lines as the rest of Romani
              Modern Issues
   Traditional stereotypes still persist
    across much of Europe and are still
    distorting the truth about the Roma
    • Seen as ‘illiterate nomads’
   Still an impoverished and
    disenfranchised group
   One of the problems with trying to
    bring Romani issues to the national and
    international stage is one of
    • Who can represent the best interests of
      such a diverse group?

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