Europe and the Roma

Klaus-Michael Bogdal


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Allen Lane
29 June 2023
ISBN: 9780241519028
608 pages

From the publisher

Translated by Jefferson Chase

The first full, comprehensive account of the cultural representation of the Roma in European history

This remarkable book describes a dark side of European history: the rejection of the Roma from their initial arrival in the late Middle Ages to the present day. To Europeans, the Roma appeared to be in complete contradiction with their own culture, because of their mysterious origins, unknown language and way of life. As representatives of an oral culture, for centuries the Roma have left virtually no written records of their own. Their history has been conveyed to us almost exclusively through the distorted images that European cultures project.

Persecuted and shunned, the Roma nonetheless spread out across the continent and became an important, indeed indispensable element in the European imagination. It is impossible to conceive of the culture of Spain, southern France and much of Central Europe without this pervasive Romani influence.

Europe and the Roma brilliantly describes the 'fascination and fear' which have marked Europeans' response to the Romani presence. Countless composers, artists and writers have responded to Romani culture and to fantasies thereof. Their projections onto a group whose illiteracy and marginalization gave it so little direct voice of its own have always been a very uneasy mixture of the inspired, the patronizing and the frighteningly ignorant. The book also shows the link between cultural violence, social discrimination and racist policies that paved the way for the genocide of the Roma.