Immigrants and Minorities, 11(1):3-20 (1992).

The Roots of Inequity: Romani Cultural Rights in their Historical and Social Context

Ian Hancock

My premise in this article is a simple one: first, that the liberty to maintain one’s cultural behaviour is dependent upon one’s civil liberties; and second, while not all legal rights are civil, all civil rights are nevertheless legal. Furthermore, if we are to deal with the situation effectively, we must address it not only as a cultural or civil or legal issue, but as one having far-reaching political ramifications as well.

The Struggle for the Control of Identity

The Chinese say that the beginning of wisdom is to call things by the right name. At the root of at least part of the problem Romanies face within non-Gypsy societies is the existence of a persistent and pervasive Gypsy image which has been forced upon them from outside.

To define a thing is to replace it with its definition, and this has nowhere been shown to be so true as in the case of the Romani people. Those who are in a position to define others are in a position of domination over those others - a point I have stressed a number of times in the past. It was Amiri Baraka who said that “when you have named a man, you have tamed him.” And as long as Gypsies are defined not according to their own self perception but by outsiders, then they will continue to be manipulated by laws designed not for their own well-being, but for what is thought to be best for them by administrators entirely unassociated with the group and who, as a general rule, have little or no real knowledge of the culture and history of the group and who are invariably unsympathetic to it. The fate of many an individual brought before the bench has depended solely upon whether the court allowed him to be a ‘Gypsy’ or not, regardless of what he, or his family or peers have always believed him to be.1 Advice to the King of Spain in 1619 was that since there was no such country as ‘Gypsy’, then that word, and those who used it to define themselves, should no longer be acknowledged.2 In the following century. Empress Maria Teresa determined that there were no longer to be any such thing as Gypsies, and the word Gypsy and the Romani language were to be banished from use.

Rights: Cultural and Civil

When we consider the cultural rights of the Romani people, it would seem evident that it should be in the context of the cultural rights of all people. However, the Gypsy situation has always warranted separate treatment from the various host establishments, and the rights of our people, civil, cultural or otherwise, have scarcely been acknowledged justly since our ancestors first arrived in Europe eight centuries ago. That designation ‘host’ with its associations of hospitality and welcome, has really not proven to be the most appropriate where Romanies are concerned.

Issues involving the cultural rights of Romanies are dependent upon the civil rights of the same population; for the freedom to maintain one’s cultural values is contingent upon one’s civil liberties. This is upheld in the statement issued by the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities:

The protection of minorities is the protection of non-dominant groups which, while wishing, in general, for equality of treatment with the majority, also wish for a measure of differential treatment, in order to preserve basic characteristics which they possess3.

Civil is the root of the word civilized; in a civilized society, civil rights are based in the codification of one’s human rights. These have been summarized in the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the text of which is included as an appendix to this article. But we must also consider a closely-related interpretation of what we as a species have a right to: our natural rights.

Rights: Natural

By nature man is a social, orderly being and our freedoms, ideally, rest upon the perceived order of our society and way of life. This notion of natural rights is at the very foundation of what is built upon it: civil rights, legal rights and cultural rights. When a population is deemed not to fit this pattern, that is, not to lead a ‘naturally social and orderly’ way of life, then they become disenfranchised, namely separated from the establishment and, as a result, placed outside the protection of its laws. In the course of time, this disenfranchised state becomes absorbed into the popular stereotype of the group thus affected, and becomes further reinforced in the folklore and literature of the larger society. Eventually it will acquire legislation directed specifically at it and designed to maintain the disenfranchised state.

In extreme cases, the perception of such a group as not being by nature social and orderly is interpreted as a genetic condition. The famous criminal anthropologist Professor Cesare Lombroso wrote in his seminal dissertation on crime that Gypsies were a ‘living example of a whole race of criminals’. This appeared in a work, subsequently published by the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology4, which served as a basis for American legal attitudes and was relied upon as a source by lawyers, magistrates and others for many years. In 1981 the one-time head of the Illinois State Police Gypsy Activity Project, Terry Getsay, published a three-part article entitled ‘GYP-sies: the people and their criminal propensity’.5 This differs little from the association of Gypsies with the ‘criminal tribes of India’ in nineteenth century romanological studies. During the preparation of this article, I learnt of yet another ‘Gypsy expert’, a Sergeant Thomas House, who has recently given a series of talks on Radio Station KPRC in Houston in which he repeatedly claimed that Gypsies were criminal by nature. Sergeant House is being promoted on the radio as ‘The Gypsies’ worst nightmare’. One need only replace the word ‘Gypsies’ with the name of any other ethnic minority to realize how frighteningly oppressive such wording is coming from a representative of the law, and how reminiscent it is of similar statements made in Hitler’s Germany.

Voltaire said that the belief in absurdities must inevitably lead to atrocities. This perceived inherited, genetic condition has on occasion been interpreted as a biological flaw, and therefore as one warranting biological control. Thus in Germany in 1920 Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche promoted the hypothesis that certain kinds of human life—Romani lives among them—were unworthy of existence because they were simply ‘ballast’ or dead weight, and should be phased out of the human race.6 Sterilization was the technique proposed, and their notion of ‘lives not worthy of life’ came eventually to form the basis of Hitler’s racial policies against Gypsies, Afro-Europeans, Jews, Slavs and others7. In 1930 the sociologist Scharfenberg published a series of articles recommending that Gypsies throughout Norway be eradicated as a people by means of a programme of sterilization.8 In 1943 the same sentiment was echoed by Erik Bartels and Gudrun Brun in Denmark, motivated by exactly the same rationale, though by now refined by German theories of race contamination:

The pure gipsies present no great problem, if only we realize that their mentality does not allow of their admittance to the well-ordered general society . . . the mixed gipsies cause considerably greater difficulties (. . . nothing good has) come from a crossing between a gipsy and a white person . . . Germany is at present contemplating the introduction of provisions of sterilization in the case of such families.9 (emphasis added).

German sterilization of Gypsies had, in fact, already been in effect for a decade before this work was published.10 The point, however, is that Gypsies have been defined from the outside as asocial, and have been legislated against as a result of this. And since Gypsies have not been given a place as part of the establishment, access to its means of legal redress has not been at their disposal.

The Other Gypsy

In addition to the legal concept of the Gypsy, there is also the popular concept, kept alive by writers of fiction and non-fiction alike, who have by their own admission sometimes sought information on Gypsies in the police records, just as those in the legal and law-enforcement professions have sought out the works of the journalists and Gypsy specialists. Almost every single bit of information available to the general public is in the form of observations made about Gypsies by non-Gypsies. The amount of material by Gypsies themselves which deals with Romani culture, while growing steadily, is still small and not easily accessible. Thus we have a circular situation, each group using the other as a resource, and each keeping Gypsies firmly locked into a symbolic role. I would like now to address this role more closely, and offer a proposed explanation for its origin and its perpetuation.

Willems & Lucassen have dealt with the notion of the ‘real Gypsy’ as a fiction created by the gypsilorist.11 They comment upon Kirsten Martins-Heuss’ demonstration that ‘the Gypsy’ does not actually exist, but instead is a representation’constructed by dominating society’.12
This is of course something we have been aware of for a long time. A century ago, Pischel stated that ‘the Gypsy ceases to be a Gypsy as soon as he is domiciled and follows some trade’.13 Some years ago, after I approached my daughter’s headmistress in connection with some racist Gypsy literature that she had brought home from her school library, I subsequently received the response that ‘Personally, I feel that the terms “gypsy” and “Romani” conjure up completely different mental images in the minds of most people, the “gypsy” being the person of fabled stories, and the “Romani” being that of an actual ethnic group.’14

In this teacher’s mind, gypsies, with the lower-case initial of a common noun,15 were not real people, and there could therefore be no offence in portraying a population which existed only in fairytales. This kind of imposed division of the population down the middle, into good and bad, real and fabled, has become very well entrenched in the popular conception of Gypsies, even in the minds of administrators and educators. In response to a complaint lodged by The International Romani Union with the producers of the Geraldo Rivera Show on CBS Television, broadcast in April 1990, which dealt with Gypsy confidence crimes, one ‘Gypsy expert’ who appeared on that programme, Professor John Dowling of Marquette University in Wisconsin, asserted that

Eventually the Rom are going to be forced to do what the Sicilians did many years ago, i.e. terminologically distinguish between the broader population (Sicilians) and the smaller, criminal element (the Mafia). Using the ancient term ‘Rom’ for all those descendants of the exodus from India, and the much more recent term ‘Gypsy’ for the criminal element, makes sense and would permit the honest Rom to take pride in their ethnicity and their achievements by distancing themselves from the Gypsies.16

Similarly, another of the programme’s ‘experts’, Detective Dennis M. Marlock, President of Professionals Against Confidence Crime, referred to ‘. . . those who once embraced the Gypsy life-style. In fact, the Gypsies who came to Milwaukee are now, quite by choice and on their own terms, abandoning their destructive life-style and becoming Romani citizens.’17

These are arbitrary divisions produced in the probably well-meaning minds of Professor Dowling and Detective Marlock, intended to allow Gypsies and gypsilorists alike to maintain a sense of acceptability and order, to separate the sheep from the goats, the manageable from the unmanageable. One cannot help but wonder how these gentlemen would react to the suggestion that their own, say, Irish-American, or Anglo-American or even their entire gajikano society be divided in the same way, with different labels subjectively distinguishing the good from the bad and applied from outside - and into which category these individuals would themselves fall. In a letter to Detective Marlock, addressing some of the issues raised in that programme, Thomas Acton made the point that

Compared with the massive record of murder, theft, kidnapping and other crimes by non-Gypsies against Gypsies (throughout history), Gypsy crime against non-Gypsies pales almost into insignificance, so that to prioritize the study of the latter over the former shows a twisted sense of values.18

When we see the studio audience cheer wildly at Geraldo Rivera’s news that a fortune-teller and her daughter received between them jail sentences totalling over two hundred years for defrauding clients out of several thousand dollars, and compare this with the forty years Jim Bakker received for defrauding the public out of millions of dollars using remarkably similar techniques of confidence trickery, we can only wonder at the extent to which this twisted sense of values, this blatant double standard separating the rich and white from the poor and non-white, has become a part of the American legal process.

Generally, Romanies are liked for their colourful and harmless ways, and (what is more important) for their social function in non-Romani culture.19 Gypsies, on the other hand, are a pest, but the terminological choices -- applied by outsiders - are not clear-cut, and certainly have no currency or validity within the Romani population. For a Mr Landon, it was gipsies who were (barely) legitimate, and those he calls tinkers who were beyond redemption, as his letter to the editor of the Surrey Advertiser made clear:

. . . gipsies are by definition a race of Hindu origin speaking a sort o fHindi. A few may still exist but they must be very scarce. The present travelling people are probably more akin to tinkers, many of whom come from the Republic of Ireland, where they are very much detested and feared as light-fingered, quarrelsome and a general nuisance. Even the true gipsy glamorised by George Borrow was never liked ... I am convinced that the majority of decent British citizens resent the gipsies very deeply and would like to be rid of them.20

The Origin and Function of Anti-Gypsyism

Anti-Gypsyism can be traced to a number of causes, which I have dealt with to some extent in my book The Pariah Syndrome. First, the Europeans’ initial association of the newly-arrived Romanies with the invading Islamic forces, and second, with their deeply-ingrained association between darkness of complexion and inherent wickedness.  Kenrick and Puxon have dealt with this in the Gypsy context,21 and we can quote from R.F. Hobson, who noted that the person of colour,

. . . associated with darkness and dirt, is a convenient hook on which to hang certain projections, especially if he is a relatively unknown visitor from a far-off country with a strange culture, or if he threatens important economic, and other social, vested interests. He is also clearly ‘not me’22

This association is a metaphorical one, yet its effects have been devastating. Philip Mason emphasizes that “hardly any white man has overcome the confusion between biological accident and symbolic metaphor”.23

Everywhere in the West, Romanies were ‘unknown visitors from a far off country with a strange culture’, and threatened not only the economic stability of the European lands through which they moved, but also the traditional cultural, moral and religious values of those conservative societies. The notion of ‘not me’ has been best expounded upon by Kai Erikson, who says that  “. . . one of the surest ways to confirm an identity, for communities as well as for individuals, is to find some way of measuring what one is not.” 24

The function of the Gypsy and his supposed way of life as a cultural boundary marker is an important one in non-Gypsy societies, perhaps increasingly so in this present age, when cultural homogenization is bringing with it a crisis of identity for members of the already culturally-levelled mainstream society, recently the topic of an investigative report in the Texas press.25 This ‘special role’ of deviant groups has been discussed by Goffman.26 Lest the extent to which this really is important be doubted, consider the vast amount of world literature - running into tens of thousands of titles - dealing with the Gypsy as romantic or criminal outsider, compared with the number of titles which deal with the population in an accurate and scholarly way. Consider the determination with which novelists and journalists persist in maintaining the romantic image, even when provided with factual resources. But ‘trying to argue with scientifically-supported evidence is a loser’s game . . . people’s perceptual defenses will lead them to accept information they are already predisposed to believe’.27

Over the course of time, the created, mythical Gypsy has assumed a life of his own. The great tragedy is, as David Sibley has so lucidly observed, that the

possiblity that the characterization of social groups like Gypsies may be based on myth is rarely considered, particularly in government circles, probably because these myths are functional - they serve to define the boundaries of the dominant system.28

This ‘function’ is at the heart of the problem: the possibility that the characterization of the Romani people may be founded in the mythical Gypsy image is rarely considered, particularly in government circles. And we must include here legislative and law-enforcement circles as well. It is precisely those representatives of non-Gypsy society who have the power to provide fair legislation and fair civil treatment, and yet it is precisely those too who have the most distorted and mythically-based view of the Gypsy, and who are most directly responsible for maintaining anti-Romani attitudes and treatment and for ensuring that the efforts to achieve equality in the law, and as a consequence, the freedom to enjoy one’s cultural rights, will be very hard won.

Maintaining the Sterotype

Even those who have an academic investment in studying the Romani population have created their own definitions of what a Gypsy is and what Romani concerns are. Marlene Sway for example perpetuates the mistaken historical speculation that Gypsies are essentially ‘middlemen’ and retain this identity specifically because they are “illiterate, and lack educated professionals among them’.29 For Beverley Lauwagie, Gypsies are neither ‘numerous nor politically active’.30 For Mette Holm, Gypsies ‘have no geographic demands . . . are a peaceful people with no leadership’.31 A doctorate was awarded for a ‘taxonomic and theoretical treatise’ on nomadic Gypsies,32 yet the only population dealt with were those only a few generations out of slavery and whose migrations out of post-abolition Romania were for the purpose of finding new, permanent homes. None of the actually nomadic Romani groups living in western Europe were examined - thus ‘available’ Gypsies were made to fit a generalized and predetermined image. For Erdmann Beynon, anybody at all who adopts certain means of livelihood can become a Gypsy, since one’s ‘membership in the pariah (i.e. Gypsy) group has tended to become identical with participation in their characteristic function’,33 a notion repeated by Detective Jaye Schroeder, who maintained that ‘the label “Gypsy” refers to any family-oriented band of nomads’.34 Raymond Pearson has no hope for us at all, concluding a review of my book with the words ‘it is difficult not to see the long-term future of the Gypsies in terms of deliberate or adventitious ethnocide . . . the crusade which Hancock represents so determinedly may have come too late to rescue a cause which is already lost’35

Following the work of Willems & Lucassen, I am in the process of compiling a study of entries for ‘Gypsy’ found in a wide selection of encyclopaedias, dictionaries and desktop reference books – sources which researchers also consult for their information on the Romani population, and which also contribute to the perpetuation of the stereotyped Gypsy.

Because (at any time) the most recent writings about Gypsies rest in large part upon what has already been said before, certain aspects of the mythical identity are reinforced through repetition. Elsewhere.36  I have documented the amazing peregrination of Colocci’s century-old statement that there were no words for ‘duty’ or ‘possession’ in the Romani language through the works of six different authors between 1889 and 1983, each one claiming it as their original observation. The following descriptive passages, from three different nineteenth-century sources, which appeared within a decade of each other around the time of emancipation from slavery in the Balkans, also illustrate the ease with which writers borrow their stereotype from each other and help reinforce the image:

The children wear no clothes until the age of ten or twelve years and resemble imps rather than human beings as they run beside the carriage of the traveller shrieking for alms, with their long matted hair flying in the wind, and their black limbs shining in the light.37

The children go naked up to the age of ten or twelve, and whole swarms of girls and boys may sometimes be seen rolling about together in the dust or mud in summer, in the water or snow in winter, like so many black worms.38

The children to the age of ten or twelve, are in a complete state of nudity, but the men and women, the latter offering frequently the most symmetrical form and feminine beauty, have a rude clothing.39

It is hard to believe that the similarity of these observations on the nudity of Gypsy children, and their ages, is entirely coincidental; they have been drawn from the common pool, the conventional wisdom of Gypsy Lore.

Stereotype as Justification

When a stereotypical attribute serves as justification for discriminatory action with official sanction, the tenacity with which it persists becomes a more urgent cause for concern. Thus once the idea that Gypsies, by virtue of their movement from place to place and lack of allegiance to any nation, must be spies, that assumption serves to rationalize discriminatory action against them.

In Germany in 1496, Gypsies were publicly accused for the first time of being spies in the employ of the Turks, charges which were to be repeated many times in the following centuries,40 and which were to levy a terrible price in terms of racial persecution. During the Trials of Major War Criminals following the Second World War, Ohiendorf maintained that one reason the Third Reich viewed Gypsies as such a threat to its security was because they ‘participated in espionage organizations’,41 although there was absolutely no evidence to support this claim. loannis Vrissakis, relating his experience in wartime Greece, remembers being incarcerated by the Nazis, whose principal reason was that they ‘must be spies, because they move about’.42 And most recently, plans to build a Gypsy site next to a Ministry of Defence establishment in Surrey, England, were abandoned because it ‘could pose a risk to the security’ of the Ministry and ‘allow terrorists near the top-secret site for reconnaissance work’.43

To enjoy one’s cultural rights, one must have freedom in other areas. The Romani populations throughout the world do not have these freedoms and, as a consequence, pay a high price in maintaining their cultural heritage. In the United States we hear of Romani Americans being refused business by undertakers, the usual reason given being that Gypsy behaviour at funerals is not ‘solemn’ or ‘respectful’ enough. The veiled implication is that it is pagan, un-Christian behaviour; behaviour not ‘like ours.’ Sometimes Gypsies have taken cases to court in which they have been banned from fortune-telling, maintaining that it is part of the Romani spiritual heritage, and therefore protected as ‘freedom of religion’ by the American constitution. In some places, this claim is upheld; more frequently, it is not. In the United States as well as in Europe, the question of whether theft is a cultural right is one which plagues police departments, whose spokesmen frustratedly repeat that Gypsies believe they have a cultural right to steal from non-Gypsies. This is one of those notions which have become carved in stone; Romani Americans in custody do not use it in their defence, although some might admit it privately, having internalized the stereotype. Theft is wrong; it is not a part of original Romani culture but came to be a means of survival when other options were closed to the Gypsy population after arrival in Europe. To the police, Gypsy life is synonymous with confidence crime. It has been defined by them as our very culture, our sole means of gauging our self worth: ‘The only measure of respect a Gypsy woman can get is based on her abilities as a thief, according to law officer Jaye Schroeder,44 who evidently believes that the role of mother or homemaker or wife or businesswoman carries no dignity at all in Gypsy culture.


In this article I have touched on a number of topics which I believe to be interrelated. To summarize, the cultural rights of the Romani populations are dependent upon our civil and legal rights, which in turn are rooted in our human rights.

Human rights are made available to people who are considered human. Gypsies have not generally been regarded as such, on occasion even having been likened to animals. In 1936, Nazi scientist Dr Robert Ritter established the Racial Hygiene and Population Biology and Research Unit expressly to determine whether Gypsies were human or sub-human (Untermenschen).45 Marginalized by non-Gypsy societies, insulated from them to some extent by strict internal restrictions on socializing, Gypsies have made no effort (until this century) to stall Attitudes towards Gypsies at the administrative and legislative levels have a long history of being rooted in prejudice. They are fed by the ‘experts’ to whom the administrators go for their information, and who have also helped keep the myth alive. Writers of novels, film-scripts, tabloid columns46 and so on - the most readily accessible sources of all to the general public - have also ensured that the true details about the Romani people remain hidden. To paraphrase Richard Wright,47 we are not dealing merely with institutionalized racial prejudice, but with a phenomenon which has become part of the Euro-American’s cultural heritage. What we have is a cyclic situation. If it is to be broken, a leap of faith is required from those most adamantly locked into the Gypsy myth and all of the prejudice that accompanies it. Until that happens, the Romani population will continue to regard the white populations with suspicion and skepticism, and the administrators of the societies within which Romanies move will continue to place Gypsies in a neatly-defined category of unwelcome outsiders, the way it has been since the aresipe.48


1. A British county council decision determined that a Traveller in England was not in fact a Gypsy, and as a result not eligible for legal process which would have been to his advantage.  “. . . he has not been a man of nomadic habits. . . in my judgment he is not a gipsy; therefore the Act does not apply.” (The Essex Courier, 15 Feb. 1974, p. 21). Just the opposite of this is reflected in a statement issued by spokesman Officer Craig Gunkel of the Palm Beach Police Department, namely that “The Gypsy type crime is a technique. Every time you hear about a Gypsy crime, that doesn’t mean that it was committed by Gypsies.” (The Palm Beach Post, 29 Feb. 1988, p.2). Many more (and more current) examples of judicial definition can be found in D. Kenrick and S. Bakewell, On the Verge: The Gypsies in England (London, 1990).

2. J.-P. Liégeois, Gypsies: An Illustrated History (London, 1986), p.105.

3. See the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in English and Romani as an appendix to this paper.

4. C. Lombroso, Crime: Its Causes and Remedies (Boston, MA, 1918), p.40.

5. T. Getsay, ‘GYP-sies: The People and Their Criminal Propensity’, Spotlight, Vol.1, No. 1(1981), pp. 12-17; Vol.1, No.2(1981), pp. 14-19; Vol.2, No. 1(1982), pp. 10-20.

6. K. Binding and A. Hoche, Die freigabe der Vernnichtung lebensunwerten Lebens (Leipzig, 1920).

7. I. Hancock, ‘Gypsy History in Germany and Neighbouring Lands: A Chronology Leading to the Holocaust and Beyond’, in D. Crowe and J. Kolsti (eds.), The Gypsies in Eastern Europe (New York, 1991), pp. 11-30.

8. J. Scharfenberg, “Omstreiferondet,” Arbeiderbladet, 31 Oct.; 11, 19, 24 and 25 Nov. 1930.

9. E. Bartels and B.G. Brun, The Gypsies in Denmark (Copenhagen, 1943).

10. I. Hancock, ‘Gypsy History . . .’, in Crowe and Kolsti, op. cit., entries for 1933 and 1934.

11. W. Willems and L. Lucassen, The Church of Knowledge: Representations of Gypsies in Dutch encyclopaedias and their sources’, in M. Salo (ed.), 100 Years of Gypsy Studies (Cheverly, 1990), pp.31-50.

12. K. Martins-Heuss, Zur mythischen Figur des Zigeuners in der deutschen Zigeuner-forschung, Forum fur Sinti und Roma, No. 1 (Frankfurt, 1983). .

13. R. Pischel, ‘Die Heimat der Zigeuner’, Deutsche Rundschau, Vol.36 (1883), pp.353-75.

14. Letter dated 25 April 1983.

15. I believe that the non-capitalization of the word Gypsy has much to do with the popular perception of our people as a socially or behaviourally defined population rather than as a distinct ethnic one. Efforts to have editorial policy changed meet with limited success; the New York Times seems especially adamant in this respect. A letter published in that paper on 20 Aug. 1990 pointing this out in the final paragraph (Hancock, 1990), had that paragraph deleted by the editor, and the word Gypsy spelt as though it were a common noun throughout with a small g. A reprint of the article by Marlis Simons referred to in that letter, and published in The New York Times on 7 Aug. 1990, was also published in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press (9 Aug. 1990), but with Gypsy spelt with an upper-case G throughout once again.

16. Letter dated 17 May 1990.

17. Letter dated 16 July 1990.

18. Letter dated 2 Aug. 1990, p. 7.

19. Discussed at length in, for example, D. Mayall, Gypsy-Travellers in Nineteenth Century Society (Cambridge, 1988); M. Brown, Gypsies and other Bohemians: The Myth of the Artist in Nineteenth Century France (Ann Arbor, 1985); K. Martins-Heuss, Zur mythischen Figur des Zigeuners in der deutschen Zigeuner-forschung (Frankfurt, 1983); K. Trumpener, Goddam Gypsy; Peoples without History and the Narratives of Nationalism, unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Chicago, 1990.

20. Letter dated 19 April 1977.

21. D. Kenrick and G. Puxon, The Destiny of Europe’s Gypsies (London, 1972).

22. In G.R. Dunstan, ‘A Note on an Early Ingredient of Racial Prejudice in western Europe’, Race, Vol.6, No.4 (1965) pp.334-9. Hobson’s commentary is on page 338.

23. P. Mason, “. . . but O! My soul is white”. Encounter, April 1968, pp. 57-61.

24. K. Erikson, Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance (New York, 1979), p. 126.

25. C. Greth, an untitled article in The American Statesman, Aug. 1990.

26. E. Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (Englewood Cliffs, 1963 and 1990), especially Ch.5. Other discussions of the place of Romanies and other ‘marginals’ in larger societies are found in the works of S. Gmelch, ‘Groups that don’t want in: Gypsies and other artisan, trader and entertainer minorities’, American Review of Anthropology, Vol.15 (1986), pp.307-30; W. Kephart, Extraordinary Groups: The Sociology of Unconventional Lifestyles (New York, 1982), Ch.l; C. Silverman, ‘Negotiating Gypsiness’, Journal of American Folklore, Vol.101, No.401 (1988), pp.261-75.

27. Key (1973), p. l73.

28. D. Sibley, Outsiders in Urban Society (Oxford, 1981), p. 195.

29. M. Sway, I (Urbana and Chicago, 1988), pp.111, 124; M. Sway, ‘Gypsies as a Perpetual Minority: A Case Study’, Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, Vol.3, No.1 (1975), pp.48-55; M. Sway, ‘Simmel’s Concept of the Stranger and the Gypsies’, Social Science Journal, Vol.18, No.l (1980), pp. 41-50; M. Sway, ‘Economic Adaptability: The Case of the Gypsies’, Urban Life, Vol.13, No. 1 (1984), pp.83-98.

30. B. Lauwagie, ‘Ethnic Boundaries in Modern States: Romano Lavo-LiI Revisited’, American Journal of Sociology, Vol.85, No.2 (1979), pp.310-37.

31. Report on the International Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe held in Denmark in July 1990, at which Europe’s ten million Romanies were included for the first time in a declaration guaranteeing human rights to Europe’s ethnic minorities.  Broadcast on Cable News Network, 1 Aug. 1990.

32. R. Pippin, Toward the Classification of Nomadic Gypsies: A Taxonomic and Theoretical Treatise, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, 1978.

33. E. Beynon, The Gypsy in a non-Gypsy Economy’, American Journal of Sociology, Vol.42, No.3 (1936), p.358.

34. J. Schroeder, ‘Gypsy Crime in America’, Centurion: A Police Lifestyle Magazine, Vol.l,No.6 (1983), p.59.

35. R. Pearson, Review of I. Hancock, The Pariah Syndrome: An Account of Gypsy Slavery and Persecution (Ann Arbor, MI, 1987), in Nationalities Papers, Vol.16, No.2 (1988), pp.332-4.

36. I. Hancock, ‘Non-Gypsy Attitudes towards Rom: The Gypsy Stereotype’, Roma, Vol.9, No.l (1985), pp.57-8.

37. M. Pardoe, The City of the Magyar, or, Hungary and Her Institutions (London, 1848), Vol.1, p. 168.

38. B.St John, “The Gypsy Slaves of Wallachia” Household Words, Vol. 185 (1853), p. 140.

39. S. Gardner, ‘Notes on the Condition of the Gypsy Population of Moldavia’, Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, Vol. 1 (1857), p. 38.

40. J.-P. Liegois, Gypsies: An Illustrated History (London, 1986), p.90.

41. Trials, Vol.4, pp.286-7. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1949-52.

42. I. Vrissakis, “Nazis and the Greek Roma: A Personal Testimonial’, Roma, Vol.30 (1989), p.18.

43. The Surrey Advertiser, 25 May 1990.

44. J. Schroeder, “Gypsy Crime in America’, Centurion; A Police Lifestyle Magazine, Vol.1, No.6 (1983), p.63.

45. D. Kenrick and G. Puxon, The Destiny of Europe’s Gypsies (London, 1972), p.61.

46. Not only tabloids; while the British press has run major articles on the oppression of Romanies in the new Europe, references to the same situation in the American press have been non-existent or buried in throw-away lines in articles dealing with other aspects of European politics. The two biggest articles to have appeared in the United States press in recent times are Paul Hoffmann’s ‘By request, Gypsy violins’ (New York Times, 22 July 1990, p.9), and John Borrell’s ‘Lanes into the past’ (Time, 25 June 1990, pp. 78-9), which refers to Gypsies in Romania only in the context of sleepy Gypsy waggon drivers presenting a ‘bucolic tableau’. The fact that three-quarters of the children suffering in the Romanian orphanages are actually Gypsy children is mentioned only in one line on the third page of an article on the subject by James Nachtwey entitled ‘Romania’s lost children’ (New York Times Magazine, 24 June 1990, pp.29-33).

47. R.Wright, Black Boy (New York, 1937), p.71.

48. The arrival in Europe in the thirteenth century.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore,

as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the people of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11. (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14. (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15. (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16. (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17. (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21. (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensible for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23. (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination , has the right to equal pay for equal work.

(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in  or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religous groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27. (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, toenjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29. (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Adopted by the General Assembly,
on 10th December 1948.