I’m so delighted to share my Twenty Gypsy Women You Should be Reading with everyone In honor of Roma and Traveller History Month,. Gypsy culture is vastly misunderstood and underrepresented, and literature is a beautiful way to discover it. You may not have heard of many of these writers before but they will astound you with their talent. Happy reading!
“And while I spend a lot of time on my soap box bellowing that Roma and Travellers are just human, as a storyteller and a poet, I will say that some of the most beautiful, dark, and hauntingly fantastic stories I’ve ever heard or read have been from Gypsies. It’s a MathildeVonThieleworld-view that outsiders would never be able to reach on their own, and I feel this poignantly as a not-quite-white looking girl who grew up knowing that, way back, her Gypsy ancestors sailed up and down the Danube from Germany to Hungary, working as dancers and fortune tellers in the riparian towns before the war tore everything to shreds. Their lives were not idyllic, but the stories my grandmother told were beautiful. I would hold them close to my chest when I was stoned at school, or given detention for “witchcraft and the evil eye” in a town where there were no Gypsies, where my mother and grandmother routinely referred to the Gypsy community (some abstract thing I imagined) as “they” instead of “we.” I worried about my “percentage of Gypsy” and whether or not it was enough to claim. The few practices my grandmother kept and passed down to me didn’t make sense until I began to research my own people when I was a teenager and realized that alienation is also inheritance. I found Papusza, the Mother of Romani poetry and an omen of exile and connection. I stepped into the river-mouth of my blood.”
My great-great grandmother Mathilde as a young dancer
Here are some excellent documentaries (that count as academic sources for your paper) about Romani culture, representations of masculinity in media, and representations of women in media, respectively.
I recommend everyone read this interview, “Race + Burlesque: Dita Von Teese Yellowface” in the ezine Racialicious–the intersection of race and pop culture because it’s a strong example of argument and analysis and will probably be helpful for your research paper. And you should especially read it if you’re working with issues of sexualization, objectification, race performance, exoticism, and empowerment through sexuality. Burlesque dancers Andrea Plaid, The Shanghai Pearl, Chicava HoneyChild, Essence Revealed, and ExHOTic Other analyze Dita Von Teese’s “Opium Dean” burlesque show use literary theorist Edward Said’s Orientalism to argue why it’s problematic for a white woman to wear “yellow face” (depict herself as ‘Asian’) They also argue that performing one’s own ethnicity through burlesque can be empowering and discuss how that idea has shaped their own acts. Although it’s a great example of argument and analysis, it’s a laid-back interview so it would be suitable as an auxiliary source to your 3 academic sources. However, the works they mention, like Edward Said’s Orientalism, would be perfect as one of your academic sources