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The gypsy’s lot: myth and reality

The gypsy’s lot: myth and reality

(p.181) 10 The gypsy’s lot: myth and reality
Law in Popular Belief
Robert Jago
Manchester University Press

This chapter focuses on the lived experiences of gypsies (collectively referred to as gypsies rather than Roma or travellers). The author argues that the relationship between the legal system and the specific lifestyle of this group is itself causing many tensions which cannot be separated from the long-held myths about gypsies. Jago shows how the standing of gypsies in the UK legal system has, in turn, become the object of various myths. He demonstrates how judgements by the European Court of Human Rights in favour of gypsy claims created in many an image of the law being always on the side of the gypsy. A perception which Jago demonstrates is far from true. After addressing the nature and role of myths in general the author illustrates the tension between positive, romanticised myths about the freedom of gypsy lifestyle and three derogatory myths, namely gypsies as "child-snatchers", as thieves and as "land grabbers". Jago illustrates that these myths are linked to deep-rooted beliefs around property and its ownership.

Keywords:   gypsies, myths, human rights, property, theft

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