Svinia in Black and White: Slovak Roma and their Neighbours
Published: April 2005© 2005
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 256 Pages
Dimensions: 6.03 x 8.94
256 Pages, 6.03 x 8.94 x 0.62 in
Roma—or Gypsies as some people still call them—constitute Europe's largest, poorest, and most enigmatic minority. In spite of their centuries-long coexistence with mainstream Europeans, our picture of this people remains rooted in stereotypes and myths that have little in common with contemporary social reality. Full-fledged citizens of the European Union, and ostensibly protected by the world's most progressive human rights legislation, many Roma live under conditions that challenge our notions of Europe, modernity, and pluralism.
This book is about a Romani settlement in eastern Slovakia. It is a community that has grown to become one of the largest and most problematic townships of rural Roma in the entire district. The dark-skinned squatters on the margins of Svinia are segregated from the surrounding society by means of physical and social barriers entrenched in local ideology and enforced by rules and conventions reminiscent of apartheid.
David Scheffel offers a detailed ethnographic account of the social, cultural, and historical circumstances that have encouraged and supported inter-ethnic inequality in the region. In the process, he demonstrates the complexity of what is often referred to as Europe's "Gypsy problem" with passion and sensitivity.
1. A Fragmented Community
2. Inside the Osada
The Roma and their Environment
Making a Living
Sex and Procreation
The Family and the Community
Deviance, Handicaps, and Pathology
Music, Dogs, and Celebrations
Relations with the Outside World
3. Romani Marginality in Historical Perspective
The Traditional Pattern
The First Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1938) and World War II
The Socialist Era (1948-1989)
Post-war Modernization in Svinia
The entrenchment of socialism during the 1950s
Uneven development during the 1960s
Criminalization and segregation in the 1970s
The deepening crisis in the 1980s
The post-communist era
Conclusions: What Went Wrong in Svinia?
This book is a terrific contribution to the literature on the East European Roma. It is an invaluable tool for the classroom, a thoughtful and carefully researched work for ethnographers and anthropologists to ponder, and a fascinating read for the general public.Zoltan Barany, University of Texas, author of East European Gypsies: Regime Change, Marginality, and Ethnopolitics
This excellent, well-written study blends traditional anthropology with history to give us a unique look into the life, history, culture, and status of the Roma. [...] The author's sensitive yet 'no-holds-barred' approach, whether it be towards the 'white' Slovaks or their despised Roma neighbours, underscores the value of this work. It is a welcome addition to the growing field of Romani studies.David M. Crowe, Elon University
Scheffel offers a superb history of Roma settlements and integration efforts while succinctly analyzing the present-day culture of the Roma community. An invaluable book for both the general public and undergraduate and graduate students.A. Karakasidou, Wellesley College
Brilliant study of a complex, haunting situation. One of the best ethnographic works I have ever read!Nancy S. Netting, UBC Okanagan