Gypsy Law: Romani Legal Traditions and Culture

By Walter O. Weyrauch | Go to book overview

SEVEN
Institutional Non-Marriage in the
Finnish Roma Community and Its
Relationship to Rom Traditional Law

Martti Grönfors

INTRODUCTION

I studied the Finnish Roma society as a participant observer in 1976–78; the total time spent in the field was about eighteen months. Since that time I have moved to other things, but have maintained contact with my closest informants and friends and also have periodically returned to this topic with updated articles.1 The participation was truly anthropological in that I lived, worked, and travelled with them as far as an outsider can do.

The Finnish Roma differ markedly from the Roma in other parts of the world because they do not really use the Romani language as a means of everyday communication. The language which they use, although related to Romani, is no longer understood by any other than the Finnish Roma. It is rather restricted in terms of its vocabulary and range of topics. Culturally, at least as far as can be assessed from my reading, the Finnish Roma, mainly because of their isolation from the rest of Europe'S Roma for four centuries and also because of their extremely marginalized position in Finnish society, have preserved some of the general customs of the Roma in a “pure, ” archaic form. One such area is the general system of hygiene, the system of ritual observances connected to cleanliness2 and pollution. I shall refer to some of those kinds of customs in this essay, insofar as these are related to the in

____________________
1
However, I shall be using the past tense mostly when I refer to my ethnographic data, as the details are from close to twenty years ago. I know that many details stand also today, but I have not conducted any systematic fieldwork since the late 1970s.
2
I prefer the term “cleanliness” to other words used in this connection, like “purity, ” because it is a faithful translation of their own usage and also because in many instances the physical cleanliness and ritual purity are the same in everyday life. The term “cleanliness” is broader and covers both. For the Finnish Roma, if something is ritually unclean it is also then practically unclean. If something is ritually unclean, it cannot be cleansed at all by any means, whereas if something is ritually pure but practically unclean it can be cleaned, for example, by washing in the normal manner. If, for example, a coffee cup (inherently clean, i.e., ritually pure) enters a ritually unclean surface it cannot be cleaned by any means.

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Gypsy Law: Romani Legal Traditions and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Editor's Note on Terminology vii
  • Foreword - Angela P. Harris ix
  • One - Walter O. Weyrauch 1
  • Two - Walter O. Weyrauch and Maureen Anne Bell 11
  • Three - Thomas Acton, Susan Caffrey, and Gary Mundy 88
  • Four - Susan Caffrey and Gary Mundy 101
  • Five - Calum Carmichael 117
  • Six - Angus Fraser 137
  • Seven - Martti Grönfors 149
  • Eight - Ian Hancock 170
  • Nine - Ronald Lee 188
  • Ten - Anne Sutherland 231
  • Eleven - Walter O. Weyrauch 243
  • Contributors 277
  • Index 279
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