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Roma in Europe
The enduring concern across all my ethnographic work has been with the survival of Romany social forms over the past three centuries through a series of onslaughts (near enslavement by landowners, attempts at physical and moral destruction under Nazi/Axis rule, the fundamental challenges to their central values from the communist state, and the violent discrimination and dislocation caused by the return to capitalism). One might think that these challenges would have been too great and have caused cultural annihilation. In explaining this remarkable persistence I have argued that the Gypsies cannot be understood in isolation from the wider society of which they always form a part. Thanks to this focus of my research on changing attitudes towards Roma in their host societies, my research has also made an original contribution to the understanding of those regimes (Nazi and Communist in particular), providing an alternative political and economic history of this part of Eastern Europe as a whole as seen from the perspective of those on the margins of these societies. My work on the current status of Roma in Eastern Europe – that has provoked debate and controversy among leading scholars – has made a valuable and unique contribution to the study of the dramatic transformations that have occurred throughout eastern Europe. Two edited collections (2010 and 2011) bring essays of my own, of my students and collaborators together for different language audiences.
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