THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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Archive for April 20th, 2007

The Road to Radomyshl’ (Travelogue Special)

Posted by intellisg on April 20, 2007

radomyshl1.jpgIn the village of Radomyshl’, a neighborhood in the periphery of bordering Kiev and Zhytomyr, a small community of Rhoma (Gypsies) carve out an existence in an abandoned mining town. The local town council has offered them a piece of land where a scrap yard once stood, but the farmers are preventing this offer – they want them out. It’s a tale that’s retold again and again throughout Russia – no one wants the “Chernyi” – a derogatory term that simply means, “black.” Not that they are black of course, some of them even have green eyes and blond hair which they insist on dyeing black.

In Russia, as in many places in the Balkans, race is constructed culturally in a way that overlaps it with other categories of social life which may not refer only to one’s complexion.

“Blacks” also can be marked as a style, by a certain kind of dress code or manner of behavior. The Rhoma we met up with do not dress in the fashion of Gypsies in films but they do stand out with their wide brimmed cowboy hats and elaborate jewelry.

A Russian kiosk operator told us,

“You can recognize those scum, they speak with their hands and fingers and through their pet monkeys not like us Russians, be careful where those fingers end up, better hide your wallets when you see them.” Read the rest of this entry »

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