Gypsies in the Diaspora? The Pitfalls of a Biblical Concept
AbstractIn the 1980s historians and social scientists in various countries started to challenge the prevailing view of Gypsies as mainly criminals and outcasts. Especially in Germany, a number of studies were published that aimed to rewrite their history. For the first time in history, “Gypsies” took over the power of definition from the state and used it to shape their own historical image. This socio-ethnic mobilization strongly influenced the approach and research agenda of historians who dug into the history of the Gypsies. Their attention was restricted to persecution during the twentieth century, and most took for granted or explicitly supported the new pan- Gypsy identity and the “diaspora” theory. The result is a rather one-sided and questionable interpretation of the history of gypsies and other itinerant groups.