Historical Background

Culture and Beliefs

Persecution and Assimilation

Organizations, Rights Groups

Research (PDF File)

The Roma
Forced Integration of a Group into Existing Cultures

Kelli Daher
17 April 2006

English 102


The forced cultural assimilation of one group into another is a terrible occurrence that has happened throughout time. One of the groups that have endured this type of “culture mixing” is the Roma, more commonly known as the gypsies. In this paper, the history, culture, persecution and assimilation of the Romani culture will be discussed at length.

The Roma, more commonly known as gypsies, were and still are a people with very unique cultural and ethnic background. They are found in historical documentation as far back as 1300 A.C.E. Because they were considered “different” from a majority of the population, they were persecuted for a very long time. Eventually, in an effort to save themselves and their culture, they assimilated into the towns and cities that they would travel through. However, because there was this merging of cultures, many of their beliefs began to die out. They started out as a traveling group, but due to how times have changed so much, many are settled down now.

Today, the Roma are trying to gain back many of the rights lost to them. Movements are occurring, usually led by major Romani organizations, in an effort to overturn anti-gypsy laws that date back as far as the late 1400s. They are working to make things equal for themselves, similar to that of other minority groups.

The main questions that kept coming up during the study of this topic were who are the Roma? What is the history about them? Why were they persecuted? Are they still alive today? These questions fueled many different answers that were able to finally be put into one single paper. Because the Roma are so distinctive, categorizing various aspects of them, their history and their culture is quite difficult. However, the general areas of study are as follows:

Historical Background

Culture and Beliefs

Persecution and Assimilation

Organizations, Rights Groups

The main topic that I found to be most intriguing was Culture and Beliefs. The Romani believe and follow multiple customs that would seem unusual or discriminatory to a person living in today’s society. Women and men have separate yet equal rights in their group, and they follow those pre-laid out rules no matter what the situation is that they are in. Everything from clothing styles to washing of objects can be considered strange from the perspective of an outsider looking in.

To most people, the Roma would be considered a very special people. They come from an unusual background and have endured many years of persecution during their travels. Currently, they are working to overturn laws made against them so they have the same rights as other groups, minorities and otherwise.



Historical Background

B.A., Robinson. “The Religion and Culture of the Roma.” ReligiousTolerance.org. July 1998. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 22 Feb. 2006. http://www.religioustolerance.org/roma.htm

                Maintained by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, this website discusses the history, persecution and some beliefs of the Roma. It also includes a small section on what is occurring with the Roma in present-day.

"The Caravan." Virtual Home of the Gypsies of Scarborough Faire. Sept 2002. Kumpania Wispersteppe. 23 Feb 2006 http://westwood.fortunecity.com/armani/208/index.html .

This website proved to be extremely useful to me. It is the website for the Kumpania Wispersteppe, a group that reenacts a Romani traveling caravan at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Texas. It provides an explanation of many different aspects of the Romani culture and history, but I felt it was most thorough in describing the clothing styles. It also gives an explanation of the Roma language and a very brief historical background.

"Comparison of Romany Law with Israelite Law and Indo-Aryan Traditions." Myths, Hypotheses and Facts. 23 Feb 2006 http://www.imninalu.net/Zakono.htm .

As the title states, a comparison on the Romani laws and laws of the Israelites, the Christians and the Indo-Aryans is made. Each one is compared, from the history of the law itself to what each one means and how they are interpreted. Different topics are covered, including birth, marriage and death.

Harris, Mark. "Gypsies-msg." Stefan's Florilegium. 2 Aug 2001. Society for Creative Anachronism. 22 Feb 2006 http://www.florilegium.org/files/CULTURES/Gypsies-msg.html .

An intriguing website and forum from a few members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (A medieval recreation group). The website includes a lot of information about the history of the Romani culture and how they came to be. I found it to be quite intriguing when it came to all of the information that was compiled there.

 "Information on Gypsy & Traveler Cultures." The Gypsy Lore Society . 1 July 2005. 22 Feb 2006 http://www.gypsyloresociety.org/cultureintro.html .

An interesting website, the Gypsy Lore Society provides a brief history of the Roma and how they came to be, along with explaining other cultures that are seen as “travelers”. They namely talk about the Roma that reside in North America, but they still provide useful information on the Romani’s travels and places that they would reside in.

The Patrin Web Journal. 1996. Roma National Congress. 22 Feb. 2006. http://geocities.com/~patrin/patrin.htm    

                An excellent source for the historical background of the Roma. It includes an introduction to Patrin and the web journal as a whole, a full timeline of Romani history, beliefs and cultural practices, the history of Romani persecution, Romani in the Holocaust and more.

Polansky, Paul. "Original Research on Gypsies." Books by Paul Polansky. 24Feb 2006 http://www.paulpolansky.nstemp.com/gypsies.htm .

Paul Polansky is an anthropologist that chose to study the gypsy culture and has written a few books about it. He includes much about the history of the Roma and some of their traditions. He also describes different tribes and how he believes them to be related to the Roma in one way or another.

"Roma Background: A Broad Overview." Traveller Support. 29 Feb 2006 http://www.travellersupport.org.uk/romhist.htm .   

An overview of the Roma and where they come from is provided on this site. It contains a background history of the Roma, where they traveled to when they first started emigrating from India, and how they were and are currently being persecuted. It goes into further explanations of the different ways that the Roma face persecution, including through capitalism and socialism.

"Roma People." Wikipedia.com. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 29 Feb 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roma_(people) .

This is taken from “Wikipedia, the Free Online Encyclopedia. It consists of explaining the Roma, their history and different parts of the culture, including, but not limited to, History, Population, Genetics, Language and Relations to Other Cultures. Though it does allow anyone to provide information on the website, the information that I found there coincided with information on other websites, so I would say it is fairly accurate.



Culture and Beliefs

"Ethnic Clothes: The Gypsies/Roma." The Boys Historical Clothing Website. 15 Dec 2005. 22 Feb 2006 http://histclo.com/style/ethnic/eth-gyp.html .

This website gives a thorough explanation of the clothing styles of the Roma in various parts of the world. It explains each one, including the historical background behind it and what may be worn today. There is also a brief explanation on dance styles, music and the Holocaust. It also gives some brief explanations of why the Roma assimilated into the cultures of the countries they were living in.

"Famous Gypsies." Angrusti Romani. 1999. The Gypsy Ring. 23 Feb 2006 http://www.imninalu.net/famousGypsies.htm .

This website, though not used in the research essay, provides information on all the famous Roma. It gives a background description of each person known almost anywhere in the world in a variety of genres, such as sports, presidencies, actors, nobel prize winners, musicians and more.

Franzese, Sergio. O VURDÓN: English Version. April 1997. 1 March 2006. http://www.vurdon.it/english.htm 

            This is the site of Sergio Franzese, an anthropologist who studied the Roma for many years. He includes a thorough explanation of how the family works, a brief historical outline of where they come from, prospects for change in the future, poetry, and various organizations in Italy that support the Roma.

Pixton, Tom. "Gypsy Musicians." Romanian. 2004. 23 Feb 2006 http://www.pixton.org/TomsRomaniaGypsyPage.html .

This website, created by Tom Pixton, explains all about Romani music, how it came to be and what it is now. It focuses mainly on the country of Romania and what music occurs there. I found it useful for understanding how the Romani culture uses music as a way to relay almost any emotions to one another, be it sadness, happiness, anger or grief.

"Romani ( Gypsy ) Customs and Traditions." 2001. Winter-Steel Productions. 16 Apr. 2006 http://www.homestead.com/WinterSteel/files/ShanaArticles/Roma__Gypsy_Beliefs.htm

              A site providing thorough information on the culture of the Roma, including food, clothing, taboos, customs, religion and traditions. The information was used frequently in this research paper, as it gave a lot of information describing various aspects of the Romani culture.

Smith, Rose. "Gypsy Fortune Teller Halloween Costumes – Easy to Make." Halloween Howl. 2005. 23 Feb 2006 http://www.halloweenhowl.com/article-gypsy-costumes.shtml .

A silly sort of website dedicated to gypsy costuming. It is actually a website for making Halloween costumes, but it provides accurate historical information on what the Roma would wear. It also gives a description on how to dress if you wish to be a “gypsy fortune teller” for Halloween sometime. Although it may not be a proper educational website, it still provided me with a lot of information.



Persecution and Assimilation

Grewal, Daisy. "HIDDEN VICTIMS: THE UNKNOWN ASSAULT ON EUROPE'S GYPSIES ." Association of Gypsies/Roma International Home Page. 29 Feb 2006 http://www.christusrex.org/www2/gypsies.net/RemDG.html .

An explanation is given on this website about the Roma and the persecution they have faced, especially during World War II. There are subsections, each one devoted to an aspect of the persecution; one being before the Holocaust, one during it and Hitler’s reign, and one after. A very colorful website, it provides a lot of information on the Holocaust and how the Roma were forgotten during it.

Kenety, Brian. "The 'Devouring': A look at the Romani Holocaust." Roma in the Czech Republic. 27 Jan 2005. 29 Feb 2006 http://romove.radio.cz/en/article/20320 .

This website gives an extremely blunt, very thorough explanation of the Roma during the Holocaust. Including pictures, it talks about everything from when Hitler first came into power to where the Roma were sent to until they died and how they were freed when the war finally came to an end. It gives a heartbreaking story about a few Roma who did survive the Holocaust and what occurred to them during it.

"PERSECUTION OF ROMA (GYPSIES) IN PREWAR GERMANY, 1933-1939 ." Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 23 Feb 2006 http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005482 .

This website, taken from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, talks about the Roma in Germany during the Holocaust. It gives an explanation of the persecution that occurred when the Nazis first came into power and how the Roma were forced to leave Germany during that time.

"The True Origin of Roma and Sinti." Myths, Hypotheses and Facts. 23 Feb 2006 http://www.imninalu.net/Roma.htm .

This website provides information on the Roma and their assimilation into other cultures. It provides different scholars’ ideas on the Roma and why they chose to assimilate into other cultures. It includes some background information, but the main topic is why the Roma chose to do what they have done.



Organizations, Support Groups                                                                                   

Association of Gypsies/Romani International. Digital Millennium Copyright Act- DMCA. 1995. 5 Apr. 2006. http://www.christusrex.org/www2/gypsies.net/ .


          This site, run by the Association of Gypsies/Romani International “…is a not-for-profit
association with the intention of giving glory to God, of preserving, maintaining, promoting our Roma culture, ethnicity, pride and integrity” (Association). They are working to help end the racism towards the Romani that is currently around the globe. They wish to end the negativity occurring and show people that the Roma are not bad.


ECRE Home Page. 4 Feb 2005. European Committee on Romani Emancipation. 22 Feb 2006 http://www.eu-romani.org/legal.htm .

The European Committee on Romani Emancipation is a group dedicated to “…provides a single non-exclusive representation on behalf of European citizens wishing to promote common rights of equity of treatment, protection and improvement in the conditions of the Roma in Europe. ECRE is dedicated to the elimination of the enforced exclusion, dependency and poverty of the Roma. We work towards the achievement of a Roma status as equal contributors to, and beneficiaries of, European economic growth, through advocacy of equal opportunities and treatment, organising employment creating investment, training and education for all age groups” (ECRE).


"ERRC." European Roma Rights Centre. 2003. International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. 22 Feb 2006 http://www.errc.org/ .

As stated on the opening page of the website, “The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is an international public interest law organisation engaging in a range of activities aimed at combating anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma. The approach of the ERRC involves, in particular, strategic litigation, international advocacy, research and policy development, and training of Romani activists. The ERRC is a cooperating member of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and has consultative status with the Council of Europe, as well as with theEconomic and Social Council of the United Nations.”

Romani World. 2005. British Committee on Romani Emancipation & the European Committee on Romani Emancipation. 23 Feb 2006 http://www.romaniworld.com/index.html .

This website, sponsored by the British Committee on Romani Emancipation and the European Committee on Romani Emancipation, provides a variety of information on the Roma and what is occurring with their culture in regards to earning backs rights that were forcibly taken away from them. It is categorized into different groups, including government, education, Economics, Finance and Constitution.


Rom News Network Community. 2004. 22 Feb 2006 http://romnews.com/community/index.php .

The Rom News Network acts as a way to find the most recent information on the Roma today. They have a wide variety of articles on Roma from around the world and in different languages. They also have a history on the Roma give a thorough explanation of what they are and what they wish to be about on the opening page.


 “RomNews Society” RomNews Network. 10 Sept 2005. 22 Feb 2006 http://www.romnews.com/ .

The RomNews Society is a branch of the RomNews Network. They publish different news articles about the Roma and their current state in today’s world. Their goal is to act so that they can inform anyone the truth about the Roma and what is important to them and their ideals. The wish to help end any prejudices and misinformation that is given about the Roma and teach others about what is true.





PDF File Romani English essay2.pdf