Xoraxané Romá - Sociopolitical Organization



Social and Political Organization. Outside the domestic unit there are no recognized "chiefs" or units that act as centers of power. Among the Xoraxané the only inequalities are those depending on age and sex. The acephalous character, however, does not prevent the recognition of baró Rom (great Rom), a prestigious title given to the head of family who is also head of a large barí familja of descendance and whose reputation is impeccable. The domestic units, independent from each other both politically and economically, form the basis for the local groups. The latter are, in Italy, ever-changing and very unstable and do not expect a monopoly over a given territory: every domestic unit can move freely and camp with any family with whom they are on good terms. This movement is hindered only by the surrounding non-Gypsies and sometimes by non-Xoraxané Gypsies, who wish to have nothing to do with the Xoraxané Romá, whom they see as trespassers.

Social Control and Conflict. For the Romá the institution of the blood-feud, or merely the threat of such a feud, is a fundamental guarantee of order. The feud, which in theory foresees the intervention only of patrilineal relatives and, within certain time limits, the intervention of the murdered person's maternal uncle, can in practice be put into effect by the nonpatrilineal relatives as well. The cognatic structure constitutes a notable restraint on prolonging a feud: the relatives common to both parties in a dispute can become peacemakers. In order officially to "repacify the blood," as the Xoraxané put it—that is, to end a feud—there exists an ad hoc institution. This is a formal trial by a council composed of an unfixed number of "great Romá" and called a plešnóra, which must be requested by both contenders. The plešnóra decides who is right and who is wrong and establishes the sum of "blood wealth" to be paid. A contender who refuses to accept the plešnóra's verdict risks a blood feud with the plešnóra itself.


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