Gypsy Law: Romani Legal Traditions and Culture

By Walter O. Weyrauch | Go to book overview

ELEVEN
Oral Legal Traditions of Gypsies
and Some American Equivalents

Walter O. Weyrauch

INTRODUCTION

The significance of tribal law for comparative law is not commonly stressed. To the extent that comparisons remain on the level of legal cultures that are historically and politically closely allied to each other, even though they are in appearance “different, ” an element of unconscious ethnocentrism cannot be eliminated. We tend to compare legal cultures with whose reasoning and results one can identify. The closeness of the parallels, while full identity is missing, tends to be experienced as stimulating. Yet the occasional forays into legal cultures that are “radically different”1 may be more fascinating and jurisprudentially and even practically rewarding. This will become increasingly apparent as my discussion of Gypsy law and American equivalents proceeds. Indeed, as the extraordinary importance of oral legal traditions within American law is suggested, the distinction between the foreign and local may become blurred, as well as the separation of jurisprudence and legal practice. This journey will take us from the esoteric to questions of legal strategy that finally may gain a legitimate place within legal theory. Since essentially novel territory is explored, I present no firm conclusions, but mere guidelines for further research.

As an example of tribal autonomous lawmaking, Maureen A. Bell and I have examined Romaniya or Gypsy law.2 This having been the first study of Gypsy law

The author is indebted to Frank Allen, Gunther Arzt, Maureen Bell, Martha Duncan, Ian Hancock, Stanley Ingber, Joanna Kinney, Leslie Lieberman, Lynn LoPucki, Ronald Mann, Matilda Montgomery, Rosalie Sanderson, Paul Schwartz, and Robert Summers. Financial support of the University of Florida Summer Research Program is gratefully acknowledged.

____________________
1
John H. Barton, James Lowell Gibbs, Victor Hao Li & John Henry Merryman, Law in Radically Different Cultures (1983). The foreign jurisdictions chosen in this work, Botswana, the People'S Republic of China, and Egypt, are still largely based on written sources, while Gypsy law is wholly based on oral legal tradition.
2
Weyrauch & Bell, “Autonomous Lawmaking: The Case of the 'Gypsies', ” chap. 2 in this volume. [hereinafter Weyrauch & Bell, Gypsy Law].

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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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