Monday, September 20, 2010

None of the stereotypes are untrue, and all of them are completely false.

I'm willing to bet that most of you have at some point participated in a heated discussion about the Bulgarian Roma. You were either questioned by people who romanticize the Gypsy lifestyle or were trying to explain how Bulgarians are (not) racist. Well... for all of you, here's a great article by a US-educated Bulgarian writer on the Bulgarian Roma that was published a couple of years ago in The Virginia Quarterly Review.

The piece is a great medley of Bulgarian social history, structural analysis and plain ole story-telling. I think you will enjoy reading and will definitely feel better prepared to continue the conversation when the time comes.


  1. having more than one gypsy friend, I couldn't agree more. The man knows what he's talking about.

  2. Interesting article. I've been reading your blog periodically for the past few years when I found it during a google search trying to find tips on getting married in Bulgaria.
    My husband is a gypsy. We meet when I was in the Peace Corps in the small town and municipality of Zlataritsa (Obshtina Veliko Turnovo) Anyway, reading this article I was reminded of the dichotomy between the lives of Roma in the larger cities and those in the smaller towns where they are much more integrated into the community as a whole.
    As far as being literate, the reason I became friends with my future husband in the first place was because he was the only person in town (Bulgarian or Roma) who spoke English proficiently. He taught me Bulgarian and I helped him improve his English.
    Not to ramble on, but there is one particular incident that I used to replay in my head when thinking about the Roma experience in Bulgaria. When we started dating I often visited Vangel in Sofia (after he had left the village to work as a cook at the restaurant Chergata in the capital). One day I was walking with him and his cousin (the head chef of the restaurant, also a gypsy) to the metro stop on their way to work. While walking we saw a gypsy woman and her child rifling through the trash trying to find scraps of food and god knows what. It was a poignant moment. The gypsy world that I knew contrasted with the gypsies the rest of the country sees.