Gypsy- American. An Ethnogeographic Study

Author: Nemeth, David
Year:2002
Pages:312
ISBN:0-7734-7217-7
978-0-7734-7217-4
Price:219.95
This study contributes to scholarship in several innovative ways. It is an ethnogeography, a regional ethnography, that focuses on an ambiguously-defined ethnic group in the United States – Rom Gypsies – whose survival strategies and stratagems appear to center ideally on the secrecy and mobility of its members. Gypsy scholars are continually frustrated in their search for truth because Gypsies, specially in America, remain ill-defined, incommensurable and impossible to map with any accuracy. The near absence of Gypsy-American landscapes and associated culture regions presents a challenge to traditional ethnography. This book contributes an unprecedented scholarly investigation of a Gypsy-American inscape as an alternative approach to the landscape study. The inscape is a vital activity space that produces and reproduces a Gypsy-American ethnos. The study focuses primarily on the activities of Thomas Nicholas, a self-ascribed Rom Gypsy-American, and his family, and offers extraordinary insight into the Gypsy-American ethnos. The book also addresses complex issues in Gypsy studies social science scholarship, provides a critique of its mission and accomplishments, and offers a unique window into the lives of some typical Gypsy scholars whose relentless pursuit of Gypsies involves considerable personal and professional risks.

Reviews

“Part Two, a study of the adaptive strategies of the Nicholas family, is the richest part of the book and well worth reading. For the scholar of the Roma, this section contains a useful case study of many aspects of the life of an American Rom….The ethnographic descriptions and discussion of Tom Nicholas’ work as a wipe-tinner….his survival strategies (secrecy, mobility, etc), and a fascinating description of a kris are all wonderful ethnographic material…. it is fascinating reading.” – Romani Studies

“The middle section is the most interesting, with excellent chapters on occupation, dispute settlement, and migratory patterns…. There are more complete ethnographic studies of Gypsy Americans….but none covers the same territory or offers such descriptive detail….Many of Nemeths’s interpretations and conclusions will be sharply debated by other Gypsy scholars, but this is nevertheless a significant contribution. All levels and collections.” - CHOICE

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Preface
Part One: The Egyptian Question
1. Introduction, Who are Our Gypsy Neighbors
2. Prester John and the Gypsies
3. Gypsy Studies in the Far East
Part Two: The Gypsy-American
4. Service Nomads, Interim Masters of Imperfect Markets
5. Gypsy Taskmasters, Gentile Slaves
6. A Gypsy Wipe-tinner and His Work
7. Bat and Ball
8. Gypsy Justice in America
9. Field Notes from 1970: A Kris in River City
10. Rom (Nomad) Gypsies in Los Angeles
11. A Case Study of Rom Gypsy Residential Mobility in the United States
12. The Gypsy Motif
13. ‘Gypsy Camp’ 1949
Part Three: Issues in Gypsy Studies Scholarship
14. Irving Brown, The American Borrow
15. Conclusion: Materials of an “Undisciplined‘ Social Science