Re: Gypsy history <long> (was: Re: about gypsy)

Scott D Frank (
13 Feb 1995 05:33:50 GMT

Jim Bracher ( wrote:
: Why have the Rom maintained such a seperate ethnic identity in the
: face of a great deal of opposition? They have been killed, severely harrased,
: forced to flee, maltreated in a variety of ways, and those they live among
: have made them very unwelcome in a variety of deliberate ways. This includes
: strong attempts to force them to assimilate to the host cultures. In spite of
: this, the Rom maintain their lifestyle and their culture.
: While other groups have refused to assimilate, to my knowledge, only
: the Rom and the Jews have caused such a response by the host culture. And
: the Jews were able to live among the host societies in spite of prejudice.
: I would like to know whether the drive for maintaining this social
: identity is motivated internally or whether it's a response to external
: social pressure (which, to me, would seem to motivate against it).
: --
: JS Bracher

The number of reason the Rom have been able to maintain their seperate
identity is long, my friend. Aside from the obvious (differnt
mode of subsistence allows them to function in any society, strong family
bonds, etc.) there are other cultural factors - the primary one that
comes off the top of my head is Marime, or uncleanliness. According
to Roma custom, all gaje are INHERANTLY marime...any contact with them can
be polluting (economic contact is usually excluded from this, to my
knowledge). So the boundary is maintained both ways - Gaje see Rom
as dirty thieves, and the Roma see Gaje as dirty and unclean. Ain't
culture amazing?

University of Mass/Amherst

P.S. I'd hardly call the Holocaust, Spainish Expulsion, British Expulsions,
etc. "living in host societies in spite of prejudice"