Spanish Rom - Economy



Metalwork is always done on a contractual basis for non-Gypsy or Gazé businessmen. Each Gypsy male head of an extended family has his clientele of repeat customers, some of which have "been in the family" over several generations. All family heads constantly search for new clients. Often several family heads enter into joint ventures and share proceeds. Interfamily solidarity is a paramount economic focus for the Rom in that significant capital is invested back into the multifamily local group in the form of elaborate ritual drinking and feasting. Women are charged with domestic responsibilities, but they help with metalwork and sometimes are called on to deal with difficult Gazé customers. The Spanish Rom and other European Rom see a sort of economic "golden age" of their people as ending in the post-World War II era, when great urban and resort hotels began to replace their large collections of valuable copper pots and pans, which required constant tinning and repair, with stainless steel. Spain, in particular, is seen by Rom to have suffered from the effects of this technological innovation. Many Rom see Spain as xalardó or "finished" in an economic sense. Many European and American Rom also view their Spanish cousins as being somewhat old-fashioned and traditional. In a related sense, European Rom perceive Spain as a particularly good place to be "Gypsy" (i.e., as a sort of "vacation" spot in which to spend the money they have made elsewhere in Europe). Some of the few small circuses that find their way in and out of Spain are run by Moldováya or Bayása Gypsies, who lost much of their Romany during the "Romanian captivity" but who have relearned it from the Rom they associate with in various parts of Europe. Finally, Rom from South America have found their way recently into Spanish tourist centers, where they make their living by telling fortunes. They tend to keep their distance from the Spanish Rom proper, who frown on the practice because they believe it exposes their women to danger.


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