Friday, February 16, 2007

Working Towards the Final Split

Chapter 3 is done!! At least a reasonably full draft of it. Pretty happy with it. Now on to the final chapter, Chapter 4. I'm already at about 208 pages, so I can't make it toooo long. I recently followed my Dad's advice to switch from two spaces after a period to only one, making the dissertation marginally shorter pagewise, I guess, though it won't change the word count. I have to finish this chapter in a rush because I still have the two textbook revisions to do.

Here is my introduction to Chapter 4, which I think is the right way to go.

Like their ancestors in the early 1400s, their descendants in the Renaissance, and their successors in the nineteenth century, the Roma of today continue to be misunderstood and mistreated. They are, perhaps inevitably, mistaken for the tradition- and media-propagated “literary” Gypsy, the characteristics of which are firmly held in most Western minds, for, as Ian Hancock puts it, “[i]t is evident that it is through literature especially that the ubiquitous Gypsy stereotype is sustained” (“Yoors” 12). This firm conceptualization of Gypsies leads to the usurpation of the senses by the imagination: the phenomena that I am referring to as the synecdochal fallacy and the misconfirmed assumption. The result is that Westerners tend to relate to the Romanies, when they are recognized as such, as if they were actually the people portrayed in popular books, movies, television shows, and so on. In my analysis, this is the most formidable and most fundamental obstacle to the fair treatment of the Roma and their culture. It is, and always has been, the root of both the “paraiah syndrome” recognized by Hancock, and the vicious cycle of poverty and crime that are central to the negative side of the Gypsy Image.

This final chapter considers the goals of current-day Romani activists and well-wishers, and their various suggestions for dealing with anti-Romany prejudice. It also considers the recent and current measures that have already been begun, attempting to evaluate and comprehend their efficacy, or the lack of it. I consider all of the findings presented in the previous three chapters, and the current factors related to the multiple ways in which the Roma are perceived today. Solutions are posited which are designed to circumvent the perceptual problems that lead to this prejudice and unfair treatment.

If the supposed participants in such campaigns as I suggest understand the roots of the perceptual problem, and if they put forth a concerted and united effort to achieve these goals, a more complete revolution seems achievable than the botched one that was attempted in the middle and late Victorian era. The opponents of these strategies are likely to include both deeply traditional Romanies, with a strong cultural self-image, and deeply prejudiced, who obsessively focus only on the negative side of the general image. Their motivations and possible tactics are also anticipated. I am hopeful that the achievement of these objectives will bring about a final split. When this happens, all will finally be able to see, understand, and most importantly, perceive the fiction-based Gypsy image as an image, and the Romanies as “human beings [who] have immortal souls.”

Let me know if you have any reactions to this approach. Thanks!

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