Svinia in Black and White: Slovak Roma and their Neighbours

By David Z. Scheffel

© 2005

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.

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Product Details

  • Series: Teaching Culture: UTP Ethnographies for the Classroom
  • Division: Higher Education
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.6in x 8.9in
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SKU# HE000238

  • PUBLISHED APR 2005

    From: $24.61

    Regular Price: $28.95

    ISBN 9781551116075
  • PUBLISHED APR 2005
    From: $23.95

Quick Overview

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." - David M. Crowe, Elon University

Svinia in Black and White: Slovak Roma and their Neighbours

By David Z. Scheffel

© 2005

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.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Teaching Culture: UTP Ethnographies for the Classroom
  • Division: Higher Education
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.6in x 8.9in
  • Reviews

    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
  • Author Information

    Born in Prague, David Z. Scheffel spent his early years in Czechoslovakia, Austria, and the Netherlands. His interest in anthropology took him to several European and Canadian universities where he specialized in Polar and Russian studies.  Author of the original research for the 1989 National Film Board of Canada production The Old Believers, he obtained his doctorate from McMaster University, and now teaches at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia.
  • Table of contents

    List of Tables and Figures

    Acknowledgements

    Introduction
    1. A Fragmented Community

        The Setting
        The People
        The Numbers
        Inter-ethnic Relations
        Education
        Religion
        Local Politics

    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?

    Notes
    Bibliography
    Index

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