Anthropological interest in Romany and Gypsy populations is now intense; but for the first seven or so decades of Anthropology, the field was left entirely to amateur folklorists. Roma and Gypsies may often “not want in” (Gmelch 1986), but they also seem not to fit into existing academic models. Examining various ways in which Romany sociality challenges existing anthropological models, this article assesses the contribution of three explanations of Romany persistence: historical, sociostructural and culturalist. Roma always live immersed within and dispersed among dominant majority populations, and yet their adaptation remains surprisingly successful in the long historical view. The enormous diversity of Romany social forms, as well as Roma evasion of the trap of nation-state/ethnic figurations, continues to provide a potent source for anthropological reflection and theorization.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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