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

8 Feb 1995 22:57:49 -0700

In article <>, 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).

I think this is due to internal factors -- the Rom have traditionally
always been very tightly knit and ethnocentric. This might be an
adaptive response to being a nomadic culture in the midst of sedentary
cultures -- even when they lived in India, they were semi-nomadic. It's
relatively easy to remain unaffected by other cultures if you never stay
with them very long.

Also, they came from an area of the world that has a tradition of very
strict caste boundaries. I have no idea when the caste system in India
arose, but at least the seeds were there when the Rom lived there.

At any rate, I think nomadism is the key factor, because it is only when
governments start forcing the Rom to settle that they begin to assimilate.

Stephanie Folse
University of Denver