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I for one am fascinated by Gypsies. I find it remarkable that a people, hailing from the dregs of medieval Indian society, could cross the whole Middle East, arrive in eastern Europe, and maintain their identity among other peoples for 1500 years. The Gypsies did this, furthermore, without maintaining their own sovereign state or religion, the two traditional ways of preserving peoplehood. That is, by any yardstick, a remarkable achievement.
Unfortunately, the realities and remarkable nature of Gypsy society and culture are never a subject of polite conversation. I once asked an eastern European affluent white female liberal for sources on the topic and she unhelpfully pointed to a Soros-funded NGO’s numerous reports on all the discrimination Gypsies face at the hands of nefarious Europeans. That really wasn’t what I was getting at.
Any people who manages to maintain their identity in such a way throughout the centuries can hardly be a merely passive object of the all-powerful majority. Rather, the diaspora people in question must have their own powerful cultural and social mechanisms to make this happen: policing group membership, ensuring endogamous reproduction, and maintaining one’s own social life as a nation within a nation.
Anyway, the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has produced a massive survey seeking to shed light on this mysterious people: as part of the “Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey” (the reflexive pairing of these two themes naturally sets the tone), 8,000 face-to-face interviews with Gypsies were held, collecting information on 34,000 people living in Gypsy households in nine European countries.
The survey covers Gypsies in Bulgaria, Czechia, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, and Slovakia, which host 80% of Europe’s Gypsies. Gypsies that have moved to a different country, very numerous since Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union and armed their Gypsies with EU passports, are not covered.
The results, indeed, are highly revealing.