Slovensko Roma - Marriage and Family



Marriage. The Roma practice marriage by elopement, following which consent must be given by both families. It is on such occasions that the more violent feuds may break out. There are no formalized exchange units, but ethnographic data demonstrate that despite the apparent "freedom" of choice, the patrilinee tend to practice a sort of delayed Exchange, following an irregular triad model A>B>C> A by means of marriages with consanguines or affines' consanguines. Apart from the nuclear family, where incest is frowned on, the only exogamous group would appear to be the set of the patrilateral parallel cousins, whereas endogamy is practiced toward non-Gypsies and toward a few different Gypsy groups. Postmarital residence follows three fairly distinct phases: uxorilocality immediately after the marriage, followed by a period of bilocality, which leads to virilocal residence. Divorce does exist, but it always involves a high level of conflict and requires the divorced man and woman to live in separate local groups.

Domestic Unit. Roma ideology stresses the autonomy of the nuclear family. Each family always must have its own home (mobile or fixed) distinct from other families, be Economically self-sufficient, and be free to move. Commercial associations between two or three families are always temporary and short-lived.

Inheritance. The Roma have developed a system of "Respect for the dead," which involves, among other things, the destruction of the goods belonging to a deceased person. The destruction involves either burning the possessions (even a caravan, a car, or money) or selling them to a non-Gypsy. In the latter case, the money received from the sale is used to decorate the tomb. Very few objects escape destruction (a knife, a watch, and so on) : they are chosen and kept individually by the members of the family in memory of the deceased. Apart from this modest passage of goods of a symbolic nature, there is no other economic inheritance. There is, Therefore, no accumulation of wealth that passes from one generation to another. However, the system of respect encourages the family not to abandon the locale in which the deceased is buried; therefore one can say that the deceased "leaves" the survivors an exploitable commercial territory.


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