Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey

Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey

by Isabel Fonseca

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Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author extensively traveled throughout European countries (particularly Eastern bloc countries and Germany) and lived with Gypsy families. Generally each chapter tends to focus on a particular gypsy tribe and within this context she shares history, local culture, and gypsy personalities. In many respects the author is an investigative reporter trying to interview government officials and police to determine how crimes against contemporaray gypsies (burning of houses, lynchings, harrassment) go unprosecuted. She incorporates government policies (as far back as the 15th century) that have marginalized gypsies and created a "non-species". On the other hand, she gives an honest appraisal of the gypsies -- knivers, beggars, illiterate, etc. I found this book to be very informative and engrossing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is a definite lack of focus in this book, to the point that it reminds me of reading the experiences of junkees. Open the book and start reading the chapter called, 'The Devouring', and you may sense what I mean. Earlier in the book we are told that, 'The Devouring' is the Gypsy's term for the Nazi Holocaust. Instead, the chapter starts as a very brief mention of Holocaust memorials, then goes into great length about a funeral, then . . . man, I don't know where it goes. Try reading 300 pages of that, which you may do by checking this book out of the library. I really wouldn't bother to buy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting historical account of the online race without a county: the gypsy race.
deebee1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Between 1991 and 1995, Isabel Fonseca visited East Central Europe many times and lived among families in the various gypsy communities of Romania, Albania, Poland, Bulgaria and neighboring countries. Fonseca is an anthropologist so she had a professional interest in exploring more deeply the history, customs and culture, the present conditions, and the future prospects of this group of people who are perhaps the least understood in the world today. Employing the usual rigorous methods of research during the process, however, does not reduce her subjects to mere objects of scholarship and observation, as her experience transforms her into a witness and a voice. She records stories, plenty of them, of various gypsy - or Roma- groups across these countries, seeking families and individuals who were willing to talk with her, to afford her a glimpse of their daily lives. She meets the poet, the politician, the academic, the self-proclaimed King, the child prostitute, among others and through vivid portrayals of these individuals we understand a little more about the immense challenges the gyspies face in every conceivable aspect of modern life.The general outlines of the story of the Romas is well-known. Since their exodus from India 10 centuries ago, they have had a long and bitter history of persecution: enslaved by the nobility of medieval Romania, massacred by the Nazis, forcibly assimilated by the communist regimes, evicted by Eastern Europe nationalist mobs, and recently, increasingly rejected by Western European countries as well. It is striking to realise that the last four stages all occurred within the last century. It is not an exaggeration to say that the gypsies have remained the scapegoat that they've always been, it seemed, in history. The only difference between them and others who also stood as scapegoats, is that their story is untold because they are invisible (e.g. except as being objects of the Nazi experiments, their experience during the Holocaust is undocumented).The gypsies evoke a strange mix of feelings and attitudes in general -- they are at once fabled, feared, romanticised, reviled and spurned. Shamefully for humankind, despite the so-called human progress claimed to have been achieved, being the Other remains a stigma. It does not help that the Romas are fiercely independent, highly traditionalistic, tightly-knit, prefering their nomadic way of life and keeping to ancient customs, stubbornly refusing to be straightjacketed by any modern system. Fonseca doesn't skirt around the uncomfortable issues, she mentions the conceptions and the prejudices that the non-gypsy has about the gypsies and clarifies with her experience but does not judge. She confirms, for example, that gypsies lie. They lie a lot -- not to each other, but to the gadje (non-gypsy), but this is not, for them, something of malice --- it is a telling of a story with embellishments, of crafting a story that the listener wants to hear, of inventing a story because he/she does NOT want the gadje to know as to know is tantamount to exposing their (the gypsies') true self. It is a means of defense, the survival of the group. Contrary to common perception of gypsies being free spirits and with no sense of order or moral compunction, their daily life is in fact strictly governed by a set of age-old customs and taboos that reinforce as well their highly developed community spirit: the gypsies live for the group, individuality is not recognized. Fonseca paints the gypsies' rich life of traditions, family values, community well-being amidst wretched poverty, squalid conditions, and most worrying of all, the increasing hate crimes being committed against them in various parts of Europe. She mentions appalling events in Central and Eastern Europe, reminiscent of the medieval ages, shocking to the extreme such as burning people, razing villages. Western Europe, on the other hand, is driving back the many Romas who have crossed to their frontiers with
skinglist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, I absolutely adored this book. Far better than I even expected. Going to c/p an excerpt of the review I wrote in my journal because I'm being lazy.--I've been reading Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca, and it has to be one of the best non-fiction books I've read in a long time. The author travelled and lived among the gypsies of Eastern Europe and attempted to track the similarities and differences among the various groups. There are several theories presented about that, but one of the most prominent indicating a gypsy exodus from India about 1000-1200 years ago. It was very interesting to learn that and see some of the tie-ins between Romani, Hindi and Sanskrit. I guess I always thought Roma/Rom=Romanian and never thought about gypsies outside of Eastern Europe, though I certainly ran into more gypsies in Madrid than I did in Prague. And much as I don't like to generalise and don't think it's fair, I nearly got pickpocketed twice in Madrid when walking through Puerta del Sol. Who was it? Bloody gypsy woman.Another interesting point that the author raised was the reaction of non-gypsies to gypsies, especially the Magyars in Transylvania. That was a real eye-opener because we all learn about the pogroms around WW2 and the gypsies killed in the camps but you don't think of things that happened in the early 90s as the author travelled. Stories of entire gypsy camp and villages being burnt to the ground for the crime of one person. Scary. This book was researched in 91-93 and published in 1995 so it's a bit out of date, but an interesting back thread to her travels were the conflicts in the Balkans at the time as well as the general unrest in the regions (especially the former Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania) following the deaths of Ceaucescu, Tito and the fall of communism.If any of you are interesting in languages/a sociological look at the history of the gypsies, I highly recommend this book. It's got me wanting to know more though. Especially about the Travellers, which I know very little about.Point of that? I seriously think I missed my calling to study linguistics. I always knew I liked languages but never realised until the last few years how I like word origins/etymology/etc. I cannot look at a word without working else what else it's related to and how it ties into other languages. I think it's thrilling to see how languages morph over time and distance and that interest has been piqued by looking at Australian English v. American English. Especially the slang. At times I barely understand what people are saying, and that's not even only 'Strine. Also, language changes within the same regional area, i.e. Geoffrey Nunberg's two books. I also love languages from a sociological point of view. Over the summer I read Spoken Here which talks about what happens when languages die and in Bury Me Standing it's an interesting look at the use of Romani throughout the regions. I am such a language geek.I know I could go for my MA in linguistics, but on its own that would be about as useful as my BA in Economics. I can't really do anything with either. Of course what I want to do is research. I love research. Research and field studies, I'd be in heaven.ETA: The above was from a 2005 read. I've decided not to study linguistics, but still have an interest in languages.
timspalding on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating, if somewhat depressing.
Skyehighmileage on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting, well written; vivid and compassionate without sentimentality; Fonseca does not patronise or romanticise the subjects. Made me challenge myself as perhaps prejudiced and that is always useful. Also made me want to know more, on the history and on the ethnography of the various groupings.
Virtual_Jo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fascinating account of the author's time spent with various Romany groups, packed with humour, social history and engaging characters.
drinkingtea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book gives a glimpse into a world that few outsiders are aware of. It doesn't make things seem ideal, nor does it make things seem wretched. The book is written with a good deal of respect towards the subject, although I am sure someone could find something to be offended about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you really want to learn about Gypsy life and about their culture this is the book. I have read it from cover to cover 3 times. I have more time to read when I go home to Hungary. I gave my book a way 2 years ago while in Hungary. So I really missed reading it this past May-July while there. I hope to find a discount coupon or that this book goes on sale on soon. Alizka