Academic journal article Romani Studies

History of the Roma in Bitola: Conversations with Older Roma in Bitola

Academic journal article Romani Studies

History of the Roma in Bitola: Conversations with Older Roma in Bitola

Article excerpt

History of the Roma in Bitola: Conversations with older Roma in Bitola (in Macedonian and English). Jeff Lindemyer and Sotir Ramadonov. Peace Corps, US AID, and NGO Bairska Svetlina. No date of publication. 161 pages.

Reviewed by Carol Silverman

History of the Roma in Bitola is an odd book of uneven quality that seems to be self-produced by the Romani NGO Bairska Svetlina and a group of Peace Corps workers. Jeff Lindemeyer is a Peace Corp volunteer who works for this NGO in Bitola. In the introduction he explains that his motivation for compiling the book was to record older members of the Romani community before they pass on. Due to the scarcity of written literature on Roma, their history is virtually unknown except by elders. 'For this reason the stories and history of older Roma community members were sought after and recorded, not only to preserve them for future generations, but also to help educate the current generation of Roma in Bitola (p. 2). Nine men and women were interviewed from the three neighborhoods within the Romani quarter of Bair; all were born before 1940. Sotir Ramadonov, secretary of Bairska Svetlina, conducted the interviews. (Note that in the book Ramadonov's name is also spelled Ramadanov; the latter seems correct to me.) The edited interviews appear in Macedonian and English on facing pages. This format is one strength of the book.

The authors used a standard list of questions for all informants, and this contributes to the lack of flow in the interviews. There is no background information provided, so readers will have to supplement this book with other materials. The illnesses and poor memories of the elder Roma make some of the material confusing, but there is some valuable information in the interviews. The war years are chronicled with much bitterness and dread, especially the German and Bulgarian occupations. Families were large, the marriage age was young, poverty was widespread and informants offer vivid descriptions of deprivation. Some males describe their or others' army experiences in Partisan campaigns, and some elders remember the roundups of the Jews.

Most of the informants received no schooling (in part because they needed to work at a young age), but a few went to school from brief periods (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.