The Gypsy-American – An Ethnogeographic Study

This study contributes to scholarship in several innovative ways. It is an ethnogeography, a regional ethnography, that focuses on an ambiguously-defined ethnic group in the United States – Rom Gypsies – whose survival strategies and stratagems appear to center ideally on the secrecy and mobility of its members.

Gypsy scholars are continually frustrated in their search for truth because Gypsies, especially in America, remain ill-defined, incommensurable and impossible to map with any accuracy. The near absence of Gypsy-American landscapes and associated culture regions presents a challenge to traditional ethnogeography. This book contributes an unprecedented scholarly investigation of a Gypsy-American inscape as an alternative approach to the landscape study. The inscape is a vital activity space that produces and reproduces a Gypsy-American ethnos.

The study focuses primarily on the activities of Thomas Nicholas, a self-ascribed Rom Gypsy-American, and his family, and offers extraordinary insight into the Gypsy-American ethnos. The book also addresses complex issues in Gypsy studies social science scholarship, provides a critique of its mission and accomplishments, and offers a unique window into the lives of some typical Gypsy scholars whose relentless pursuit of Gypsies involves considerable personal and professional risks.

Table of contents (main headings)

Part One: The Egyptian Question

  1. Introduction, Who are Our Gypsy Neighbors?

  2. Prester John and the Gypsies
  3. Gypsy Studies in the Far East

Part Two: The Gypsy-American

  1. Service Nomads, Interim Masters of Imperfect Markets
  2. Gypsy Taskmasters, Gentile Slaves
  3. A Gypsy Wipe-tinner and His Work
  4. Bat and Ball
  5. Gypsy Justice in America
  6. Field Notes from 1970: A Kris in River City
  7. Rom (Nomad) Gypsies in Los Angeles
  8. A Case Study of Rom Gypsy Residential Mobility in the United States
  9. The Gypsy Motif
  10. ‘Gypsy Camp’ 1949

Part Three: Issues in Gypsy Studies Scholarship

  1. Irving Brown, The American Borrow

  2. Conclusion: Materials of an "Undisciplined‘ Social Science

About the author: Dr. David "Jim" Nemeth is a cultural geographer in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toledo. He has pursued Gypsy studies scholarship for over thirty years. He offers a specialized Honors Seminar in Gypsy studies titled "Gypsy Ethnicity in a Multicultural Context." He is past President of the international Gypsy Lore Society and has served on its Board of Directors for several consecutive terms. He is also past editor of the Society’s Newsletter.

Nemeth, David. The Gypsy-American An Ethnogeographic study. Lewiston, NY: Edwin. Mellen press, Mellen Diaspora Studies No. 1, 2002

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Copyright ©2002 Dr. David Nemeth.  This document is copyrighted and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same.  I have saved all of the links, so please let me know if any are taken off line and I can reproduce them here.