Since the arrival of the "Gypsies," or Romanies, in Europe at the beginning of the eleventh century, Europeans have simultaneously feared and romanticized them. That ambiguity has contributed to centuries of confusion over the origins, culture, and identity of the Romanies, a confusion that too often has resulted in marginalization, persecution, and scapegoating. The Role of the Romanies brings together international experts on Romany culture from the fields of history, sociology, linguistics, and anthropology to address the many questions and problems raised by the vexed relationship between Romany and European cultures.
The book's first section considers the genesis, development, and scope of the field of Romany studies, while the second part expands from there to consider constructions of Romany culture and identity. Part three focuses on twentieth-century literary representations of Romany life, while the final part considers how the role of the Romanies will ultimately be remembered and recorded. Together, the essays provide an absorbing portrait of a frequently misunderstood people.