The Romani Diaspora Essay

2078 words - 8 pages

The Roma situation is a macrocosm for many of the concepts that are used in globalization today. Internal displacement, racial discrimination, poverty, and persecution are both historical and current issues. Roma have been subject to their fair share of alienation, human rights violations and war crimes. NGO's associated with the protection and promotion of the Roma people use methods available to other well -established NGO's. The situation of the Roma people has also inspired a new direction in anthropology. They are connected as they have a common language, blood, traditions, culture and religion. The Roma situation has raised concerns in dozens of NGO's as well us the UN and the European Union. This paper will examine the Roma situation in Europe as an informal Diaspora network and its effects on world politics, and more briefly how the European effects have spread all over the globe.

In Europe a strong negative connotation is applied to the people known as "Gypsies." With recent human rights movements, however, the term "Roma," which emphasizes a rich history, culture and traditions is used. By some estimates there are 10 million Roma dispersed in every country in Europe. Genetic analysis estimates that the bloodline is 32-40 generations old with roots primarily traced back to India. Their exodus began somewhere between the 5th and 10th centuries AD, with their arrival in Byzantium between the 11th and 12th centuries and their dispersal through Europe was documented by the end of the 15th century.( Morar, 597) Although historically nomadic, many groups became sedentary. Two early permanent settlements were established upon their arrival in Europe: "Vlax Roma" into present day Romania and the "Balkan Gypsies" into the Balkans south of the Danube. (Morar, 597) The rest of the Roma spread along all of Europe.

The prejudice modern Roma face has both historic and current reasons for its being. Closer examination of the situation can be described as "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma," best said by Sir Winston Churchill. One such irony has its roots in history. When the Roma departed India in the neighborhood of a thousand years ago, they had a concrete purpose: escape the Islamic forces that had invaded the northwestern Hindustani peninsula.(Union Romani) Their arrival in the west coincided with the Crusades, and, having dark skin, they resembled Muslims and were consequently treated as such. Ever since, adversity, discrimination and assimilation became reoccurring themes in Roma history. Roma activists have long maintained that from 500,000 to one million Roma died in the Holocaust. However, Roma were not eligible for reparations at the end of the war in the way the Jews were, as it was argued that the Jews were targeted racially with the goal of genocide, whereas no such thing was intended for the Roma population (Union Romani).

In the 1980's, an assimilation attempt in Spain had been imposed on the Gitano (Spanish...

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