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Svinia in Black and White

Svinia in Black and White: Slovak Roma and their Neighbours

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 244
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  • Book Info
    Svinia in Black and White
    Book Description:

    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

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0682-1
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
    (pp. 7-8)
    (pp. 9-10)
    (pp. 11-16)

    This book is about a community of Roma—or Gypsies, as some people still call them—in eastern Slovakia. Founded in the late nineteenth century by a handful of migrants, its population has grown over the decades to become one of the largest and most problematic settlements of rural Roma in the entire district. Despite its central European location, it resembles a third-world slum marked by unemployment, internal exploitation, violence, substance abuse, and resignation. Wedged into a village inhabited by ethnic Slovaks whose views of the Roma are openly racist, the dark-skinned squatters on the margins of Svinia are segregated...

    (pp. 17-46)

    On the surface, Svinia is an unremarkable village situated near the east Slovak city of Prešov. With an area of 1,473 hectares and more than 1,300 residents, it belongs to the larger rural municipalities in the district. The centre of the village boasts an attractive Roman Catholic church, a small château converted into a museum of agriculture, a municipal building with an assortment of civic and medical services, an elementary school, and a handful of stores, the busiest of which is linked to a tavern. A cluster of low-slung concrete buildings nearby belongs to the agricultural cooperative which, even more...

    (pp. 47-138)

    According to local folklore, Romani presence in Svinia goes back to the early years of the twentieth century when the resident Hungarian noble recruited a handful of Roma from nearby Jarovnice to empty the chamber pots in his château. Not everybody agrees on the precise nature of their work, but there is unity on attributing the origins of the settlement to a single couple who got married in the local church, begot more than a dozen children, and thus laid the foundation for a rapidly expanding community. Here is how an elderly villager, born in 1918 , recalls the ancestral...

    (pp. 139-210)

    The essential features of the settlement of Svinia, as described in the previous two parts, provide ample illustrations of the marginality of its inhabitants. Local Roma lack access to adequate land and its resources; they live in a dirty, crowded, and unsafe environment; their housing is well below the standard of the surrounding society; they are uneducated and unemployed; they suffer disproportionately from ill health and early death; and they are exposed to widespread prejudice and discrimination that hamper their participation in local community affairs and political life. What are the root causes of Svinia’s “Gypsy problem”? As I show...

  9. conclusions: WHAT WENT WRONG IN SVINIA?
    (pp. 211-226)

    How can we explain the profound marginality of Svinia’s Roma? What accounts for their exclusion from the mainstream society that surrounds them and the social, material, and cultural benefits enjoyed by its members? It seems to me that in our search for plausible explanations we must concentrate on events and processes that transpired during the socialist era. After all, socialism promised to eradicate the disparities between “blacks” and “whites,” and, as we have seen, it carried out a modernization campaign of unprecedented scope that was expected to tear down the barriers separating the two groups. Yet the barriers prevailed and...

    (pp. 227-232)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 233-244)