Romani Studies

Sinti Estraixaria children at school, or, how to preserve 'the Sinti way of thinking'

Romani Studies (2004), 14, (1), 1–23.

Abstract

The discussion on schooling and education for Gypsy children has been running for a long time now. At present this discussion is taking several—sometimes quite opposite— directions. Some authors make a plea for schools which help to rediscover the lost cultural identity of the Gypsies, while others want liberation from school as Gypsy culture expresses itself outside the state apparatus of education. In many of these discussions the emic, or internal, vision of the Gypsy way of interpreting school and education is omitted. This article focuses on a concrete ethnographic example in which Italian Sinti give their own answers to the global dimension of school. The internal perspective is favoured here, and we can see Sinti children and their families interacting with and interpreting school according to their way of thinking. The article shows how Sinti, both children and adults, redefine and reinterpret their presence at school. It shows how school can be defined in relative terms, as a cultural value.

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Tauber, Elisabeth