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Yaron Matras’s comprehensive and fascinating study of the origins, history and culture of the Romani people is both entertaining and extremely interesting. From the first ever mention of the Roma people to the present day, Matras covers all aspects of their lives and traditions. It’s a difficult story to trace as there is little documentary evidence, as stories were usually passed down orally. They have no homeland, and are scattered all over the world. Repeatedly shunned, harassed and persecuted, they have always lived on the margins of society and to a large extent still do, with the subsequent suspicion and distrust given to the outsider. Never a homogeneous group, it is sometimes even difficult to define exactly who is a member of this diverse and diffused group. There has been relatively little scholarship devoted to them which makes this book even more timely and welcome, both to academics, policy makers and the general reader. Few people are unaware of the stereotypes, and certainly here in the UK there is deep distrust of so-called travellers. With chapters on Romani society, customs, language, identity and origins, Matras has delved deep into background of the Romani people and offers here a wide-ranging and well-researched book that gives a new perspective as well as an update on the current generation of better educated and self-confident activists who are ensuring that the Romani voice is at last listened to. A very worthwhile and enjoyable account of this little understood people.
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on 4 March 2014
I had high hopes of this book providing an accurate and wide-ranging overview of the Romani population world wide. But I found it full of irritating inconsistencies, e.g. having defined what a "nation" is and having established that the rom are not, the author here and there calls them a nation. Why call them "roms" when everyone including themselves call themselved Roma?
There is no attempt made to point to the enormous diffrences in "classes" - if one may call them that among the Roma. Like most peoples, there is an underclass and it is this which fuels the antagonisms against such a large section of Roma society. Clearly the author's friends are generally from among the settled and literate Roma so their observations and experiences would not necessarily be typical or even relevant to what is probably still a majority.
I learned a lot of facts, some interesting historic assumptions, quite a lot about the lamguages but very little about this fascinating and enigmatic people, which is what they are; - not a nation.
KC
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on 2 August 2014
Perfect for finding out a little more about Romani Gypsies from an author who is clearly knowledgeable
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on 20 December 2014
Interesting read
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on 21 December 2014
Inspiring
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on 13 September 2014
Good Book
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on 28 April 2016
all good
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