Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are some of the most marginalized and vilified people in society. They are rarely seen as having a place in a country, either geographically or socially, no matter where they live or what they do. Another Darkness, Another Dawn is a new history that charts their movement through time and place: from their roots in the Indian subcontinent, across the Byzantine and Ottoman empires to western Europe and the Americas, to their place in the contemporary world.
This history of Romani people demonstrates how their experiences provide a way to understand mainstream society's relationship with outsiders and immigrants, both in the past and present. Rather than seeing these peoples as separate from the societies in which they have lived, and as untouched by history, this book sets Gypsies' experiences in the context of broader historical changes. Understanding their history is to take in the founding and contraction of empires, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, wars, the expansion of law and order and of states, the Enlightenment, nationalism, modernity and the Holocaust, as well as the increasing regulation of modern society. It is as much a history of ourselves as it is a history of 'others'.
Ultimately Taylor demonstrates that history is not always about progress: the place of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers remains as contested and uncertain today as it was upon their first arrival in western Europe in the fifteenth century.
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‘an engaging tour-de-force of termporal political and policy practice across diverse localities . . . Taylor presents a subtly nuanced picture of European Roma, showing the everyday lived reality of complex community relations, the impact of inter-marriage and personal contacts, which alleviate what could appear to be a relentlessly grim picture of centuries of bureaucratic and legislative oppression . . . this book is highly suitable for the general reader and students alike, who require a clear grasp of the post-Enlightenment spread of nationalism and the impacts of changing political regimes on populations who are outside normative constructions of the “good citizen”’ – History Today
‘Becky Taylor achieves something quite brilliant here . . . What is particularly good is Taylor’s highlighting of the discrepancies between rulers’ edicts and legislation, and the clues she has unearthed about the realities of everyday practices . . . Taylor does not shy away from detailing the devastating effects of anti-Gypsy policies and practices . . . Thanks to the greater availability of relevant documentation at the point in the historical record,Taylor is able to offer more direct quotes from Roma people themselves, adding depth to the narrative.’ – Times Higher Education
‘In this fine book, the historian Becky Taylor delivers a dramatic sweep of the struggles of travellers and gypsies to survive and the diverse forms of pernicious, and at times murderous and extremist prejudice mobilised against them. The book develops an impressive and compelling longue durée history of gypsies and travellers, combined with detailed histories of recent experiences and contexts . . . this ambitious and passionate book makes a strong claim for the importance of understanding the persistent struggles of Gypsies and travellers to survive. It also demonstrates that paying attention to theways in which they have done so can illuminate broader processes of state formation and the constitutive spatial violences at their heart.’ – Journal of Historical Geography
‘In this ambitious book, Becky Taylor follows Romany people from their roots in the East to show how they become established in the West and beyond. She also looks at Europe’s other ethnic Travellers, and weaves a gripping story of their part in the continent’s history. What sets Taylor’s work apart is that wherever possible, she names the individual Gypsy and Traveller people in history . . . much of the book comes from the mouth of the people themselves, rather than just being another historian’s view. It's essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the history behind how Gypsies and Travellers live today’ – Travellers’ Times
Becky Taylor is a lecturer in History at Birkbeck, University of London, and is the author of A Minority and the State: Travellers in Britain in the Twentieth Century (2013).