“No promised land”: history, historiography and the origins of the Gypsies

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Marsh, Adrian Richard Nathaneal (2008)
  • Subject: PK

This book examines the questions of how Gypsy ethnicity, identity and history are interlinked in the context of examining various contested narratives or origins and migration. The text is itself a series of narratives and counter-narratives that engage in a self-critical, deconstructive analysis of the underlying assumptions hitherto presented in many, if not most of the previous scholarship regarding the origins and identity of the Gypsies, with particular focus on the contextual and radically contingent nature of all such texts. As such, the primary examination is an historiographical and theoretical consideration of the questions surrounding Gypsy ethnicity and identity.\ud \ud The dissertation also considers to what extent the production of historical knowledge is affected by those who produce it from within and without the Gypsy community or communities themselves. Most especially, this survey examines the production of literatures in Turkish scholarship, as related to the underlying conception of the book arguing for a re-examination of Romanī historiography from east to west, rather than the ‘traditional’ Orientalist and Europe-centric perspectives deployed by much of the previous scholarship.\ud \ud Moreover, the dissertation focuses upon the Turkish lands to argue that the historical experiences of Gypsies in this region are of critical importance in understanding the development of both European Romanī histories and in acknowledging the flawed basis for the universalist conceptions of European Roma identity and political mobilisation, as they are now articulated. The importance of Islam in the origins and history of the Gypsies is stressed.\ud \ud This theoretical framework underlies the interweaving narratives that make up the latter sections of the text, a reconsideration of the sources for early Gypsy history that posits an alternative narrative.
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