Note: when referring to an ethnic group, it's impossible to find a word that will please everybody. I have chosen to use the word "Rroma" to refer to the people that have been historically known as the Gypsies. Among many people the word "Gypsy" has taken on very, very negative connotations as a vicious racial slur. I acknowledge that not all Gypsies are Rroma - some are Sinti, Dom, or Lom. I also acknowledge that some prefer to use the word "Gypsy" instead of Rroma. But I needed to use something, so I opted for the word with less inflammatory connotations. If you want to read more about why many Gypsies prefer to be called Rom, see the article Please Call Me Rom on Kajira Djoumahna's web site.
This book addresses the history, the modern-day lives, and outlook for the future of the Rroma (Gypsies). The historical information focuses on the Middle Ages through the present, and the information presented is almost entirely focused on the experience of the Rroma in Europe. There is very little information about the era when they lived in the Middle Eastern countries.
In conducting her research, Fonseca travels to various countries to spend time living among the Roma and observing their lifestyle. She begins by traveling to Albania and spending the summer with the Dukas family. She describes the living quarters, the food, the neighborhood, the people, and more.
In the next section, she talks about the history of the Rroma, including their origins in India, their journey west, and their diaspora.
In chapter three, Fonseca describes her visit to Bulgaria. She explores the anti-Gypsy racism of Bulgaria, and the living conditions in which they survive.
Chapter four begins with a very sad story of how an entire neighborhood of 175 Rroma is burned down in Romania in retaliation for a pair of Rroma brothers killing an ethnic Romanian. The mayor himself was a spectator at this burning, and on his orders the fire trucks stayed away. And so begins the chapter describing the persecution experienced by the Rroma living in Romania. This chapter includes detailed information about the era of the Rroma being held in slavery.
From here, the author goes on in subsequent chapters to examine the situation in Poland and Germany. She describes the German rejection of the idea the Rroma could be refugees, and exposes the extermination of thousands of them in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
The book closes with a description of the efforts of the Rroma to organize and lobby world governments on behalf of their people.
This is a painful book to read. It is a story of poverty, slavery, persecution, displacement, and even genocide faced by an entire race of people. Anyone who has ever dreamed of the "romance of the Gypsy trail" needs to read this book. The notion of camping outdoors around an open fire becomes much less romantic when you realize that the reason for doing so is because a mob of local town people have just burned down someone's house with all its belongings in the dead of winter. Romantic? I don't think so. The bleakest aspect of reading this book is reaching the realization that these events continue to occur today, and it's very likely they will continue into the future.
Is It Right for You?
You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...
This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...
What I Liked, What I Didn't
What I Liked:
What I Didn't Like:
Bury Me Standing actually has nothing to do with Middle Eastern dance or culture. However, many devotees of Middle Eastern dance have taken a strong interest in the Rroma, because their path led through Iran, Iraq, and Turkey on their way to Eastern Europe, and their dance traditions serve as a source of creative inspiration to dance artists today. That's why a review of this book appears on this web site.
Everyone who wants to embrace "Gypsy dance" should read this book to understand what it really means to be a member of this ethnic group. It probably won't change the way you dance, but it probably will change the way you think about the people you are looking to for inspiration.
This book is not entertaining to read, but I'm glad I read it. The writing style makes me care about these people. Their story is that of an ethnic minority being subjected to flagrant human rights abuses that show no sign of ending in the foreseeable future.
The book was recommended to me by a Rromany friend who said it provides a realistic view of Gypsy culture and modern-day struggles to survive. From what my friend has told me, I feel this book is a credible source.
There is nothing to disclose. I have never had any contact with anybody involved with this book.
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