Global Beat Fusion: Journeymen

10 07 2007

Fanfare Ciocarlia

by Derek Beres

The question of identity affects us in stark and profound—and very often, unconscious—ways. Individuals, and by extension the communities they are born within, generally use two means of defining “who” they are: geography and religion. It can be argued that the latter, like all later affiliations in life, is a conscious choice, although many religious groups believe themselves to have inherently been born as such. Geography is, then, the most reliable means of defining a culture.

The Rom, popularly known as Gypsies, has not fit this mold for some time, mostly due to the fact that no one can prove where its origins lay. (The same can be said for humanity in general.) While linguistic parallels trace the Romani dialect to India, some feel that these people originally arrived from East Africa. The Sidis of Gujarat, the “Black Sufi” community in India, is one example of how ethnographic cultures form over time. Claiming India as the motherland of Gypsy culture doesn’t always pan out: some feel that they are the descendents of the kshatriya, the warrior caste, while others claim they were lower, given the fact that wherever they traveled that is the role they assume.

And traveled the Rom did, to Persia in the ninth century, and soon after up the Balkan trail into Eastern Europe. Today Gypsy culture is global; the term comes from economic and social standing as much as ancestry, as well speaking the Romani language. Why, exactly, the seemingly random journeying of a lower-class population should even deserve attention seems confusing, until we recognize one simple fact, regarding the influence of their travels: they are the very soul of each culture they touch.

Click here to read full article on Pop Matters.

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