Xoraxané Romá - History and Cultural Relations

Having lived for centuries in regions under the domination of the Ottoman Empire, the Xoraxané are noted even today for the cultural influences they have received from the surrounding non-Gypsy Muslim populations. In fact the term "Xoraxané" is used as a distinguishing mark in relation to the "Christian Romá," called "Dassikané Romá" or "Gadjikané Romá" (i.e., "Serbian Romá" or "non-Gypsy Romá"). They are very numerous in the regions that were the south of Yugoslavia (numbering a few hundred thousand) and it would seem they developed relatively early permanent settlements, both rural and urban. Today one can find Xoraxané Romá in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Denmark, as well as in Italy. Even though they consider the West to be a "halter's" (beggar's) paradise, their living conditions are far from easy. Most arrive in Italy illegally and remain without the residence permit required of them as foreign citizens. This unlawful status leads them to continual struggles with officials, as do their economic activities, which are considered illegal under Italian law. During the 1970s the Italian police used mass roundups and escorted them over the Italian/Yugoslavian border, but the Romá always managed to return. During the 1980s several Italian city councils, especially those in large municipalities, adopted a policy of integration by means of the usual system of schooling, job-training schemes, and the setting up of special campsites; nevertheless, the Xoraxané's position in Italy today remains difficult. Among the Gypsy groups in Italy, the Xoraxané is the group that appears to best accept schooling and literacy. Even most of the adults can read and write, evidently as a result of the partial success of the Yugoslavian policies regarding mandatory school attendance; in fact, it is not an accident that in Kosovo and Macedonia there are cultural circles organized by Romá that have produced notable literary works.

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