Gypsy World: The Silence of the Living and the Voices of the Dead

For many of us, one of the most important ways of coping with the death of a close relative is talking about them, telling all who will listen what they meant to us. Yet the Gypsies of central France, the Manus, not only do not speak of their dead, they burn or discard the deceased's belongings, refrain from eating the dead person's favourite foods and avoid camping in the place where he or she died. In Gypsy World , Patrick Williams argues that these customs are at the centre of how Manus see the world and their place in it. The Manus inhabit a world created by the Gadzos (non-Gypsies) , who frequently limit or even prohibit Manus's movements within it. To claim this world for themselves, the Manus employ a principle of cosmological subtraction: just as the dead seem to be absent from Manus society, argues Williams, so too do the Manus absent themselves from Gadzo society - and in so doing they assert and preserve their own separate culture and identity. Anyone interested in Gypsies, death rituals or the formation of culture should enjoy this fascinating and sensitive ethnography.