Reviews

This paper reconstructs the history of the modern presence of Gypsies in present-day Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (contrary to what in announced in the first paragraphs, Tajikistan has been completely let aside of the present study).  Based on the essentially elliptic and varying data of censuses of the late Tsarist and Soviet period, and on a limited fieldwork in the Namangan region of Uzbekistan and in the Yangi-Mahalla neighbourhood of the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan, the study takes into account limited aspects of Gypsy history and anthropology in former Soviet Central Asia.  The authors also tend to generalise their local observations in Osh, so inevitably driving to a number of misconceptions and inaccuracies (e.g., as to the Gypsies’ organisation in individual families not included in larger compact groups; on their lack of preservation of legends confirming their connections to the Indian subcontinent; on their funerary rites not differing from those of the Muslim majority, etc.).  The reader will be interested by factual information on the Muslim Gypsy community in Osh, the latter’s traditional dwelling and clothing, religious and wedding practice, and professional activities, as well as on the local memory of the erratic agrarian reforms of the 1930s and of the short-lived experience of Gypsy collective units in Soviet Central Asia.  The paper ends in the formulation of some political demands as to the Gypsies’ rights and representation in Kyrgyzstan.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-7.4.A-628