Gypsy - Culture - Horton High School

Gypsy - Culture
What is a subculture?
What are Gypsies?
How are Gypsies a subculture?
Gypsy Culture
The Romani are an ethnic group living mostly
in Europe and America. Romani are widely
known in the English-speaking world by the
Gypsies (or Gipsies).
Although they are often called Gypsies, some
consider the name “gypsy” derogatory.
Since they mysteriously migrated from India and
arrived in Europe roughly 800 years ago, the Romani
have remained a shadowy, isolated group in the many
countries where they’ve spread. What sets them apart
is not just their characteristically dark complexion, or
the fact that many speak various dialects of the Romani
language but as a group that once was enslaved by
Europeans, and which over the centuries often has
suffered from prejudice, exclusion and sometimes
violent persecution.
The Romani people have survived in part by
developing their own highly insular subculture, with its
own largely unique customs, social structure,
professions, mores, and spiritual beliefs.
• When they first arrived in Europe in the 1300s, the Romani people
tended to stay on the move, probably because they had to. Their
dark skin color and unfamiliar language led many Europeans to fear
that they were advance troops of an Ottoman invasion, and they
often were not allowed to establish permanent settlements.
Gradually, their wandering developed into a way of life. They found
a useful role in the European economy, serving both as a source of
seasonal farm labor, as traders and repairers of household goods,
and as fortune-tellers and spreaders of news and gossip. Today,
most people of Romani roots probably have settled permanently in
houses and apartments, in part because of European governments’
efforts to force them to stay in one place. But some still cling to the
ancient migratory lifestyle, though they’ve traded the old horses
and wagons for cars, vans and recreational vehicles.
Attitude Toward Outsiders
The Romani word for someone outside their ethnic
group is gadzo. The Romani traditionally avoid mixing
too much with outsiders, still consider marriage
between Romanis and non-Romanis to be a taboo, and
often are reluctant to have their children educated in
western-style schools or go into professions other than
the ones traditionally practiced by their people. Some
of this may stem from an insular culture’s urge for selfpreservation, but there also is a spiritual rationale.
Spiritual Rationale
Romani also believe in the importance of
spiritual energy, called dji, which they think is
drained when one spends too much time in
jado, the non-Romani world. The only remedy
is to reimmerse oneself in an all-Romani
culture, which is another reason that the
Romani tend to keep to themselves.
Canadian Gypsy
My story: growing up as a Romany Gypsy in
Family, Courtship and Gender Roles:
• A Romani family unit typically encompasses multiple generations,
and includes a patriarch and matriarch, their unmarried offspring
(both young and adult) and a married son, his wife and their
children. By the time an older son is ready to establish his own
household, a younger son often will have married and brought his
wife and children into the family to take the places of the departing
sibling. Roma traditionally marry young, sometimes in their early to
mid-teens, with matches made by elders in the family, sometimes
to forge ties with another family. Traditionally, the family of a bride
pays a dowry to the new husband’s family. Romani families often
have many children, in keeping with the Romani aphorism but
chave but baxt—in English, “many children much luck.” According
to Ian Hancock, an English scholar of Romani descent, Romani
children often have been viewed as an economic resource, and
often are put to work at young ages to help support the family.
Article – Child Bride
• You will answer all questions – these answers
will be used in your final response.
Final Response (write this down)
Explain how the cultural integration of
mainstream values will change the traditional
values and beliefs of the gypsy people. Use
the following terms in your response: ascribed
roles, achieved roles, values, norms and
traditions. Use examples to support your
response. Underline the term when used.
Gypsy – Child Thieves
• 1 hour documentary – a closer look at gypsy culture. Is
this documentary an example of the prejudices coming
into play against the gypsy people or an accurate
representation of this mysterious culture?
• While you watch the video you are welcome to work
on the final response. For this you will need the
answers from last class.
• All responses are due next class.

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