This is an ethnogeography, a regional ethnography, that focuses on an ambiguously defined ethnic group in the United States - Rom Gypsies - whose survival strategies and strategems appear to centre ideally on the secrecy and mobility of its members. Gypsy scholars are continually frustrated in their search for truth because Gypsies, especially in the US, remain ill-defined, incommensurable and impossible to map with any accuracy. The near absence of Gypsy-American landscapes and associated culture regions presents a challenge to traditional ethnography. This study contributes a scholarly investigation of a Gypsy-American inscape as an alternative approach to the landscape study. The inspace is a vital activity space that produces and reproduces a Gypsy-American ethnos. The book focuses primarily on the activities of Thomas Nicholas, a self-ascribed Rom Gypsy-American, and his family. It also addresses complex issues in Gypsy studies social science scholarship, provides a critique of its mission and accomplishments, and offers a window into the lives of some typical Gypsy scholars.
Part 1 The Egyptian question: introduction - who are our Gypsy neighbours?; Prester John and the Gypsies; Gypsy studies in the Far East. Part 2 The Gypsy-American: service nomads, interim masters of imperfect markets; Gypsy taskmasters, gentile slaves; a Gypsy wipe-tinner and his work; bat and ball; Gypsy justice in America; field notes from 1970 - a "Kris" in River City; Rom (nomad) gypsies in Los Angeles; a case study of Rom Gypsy residential mobility in the United States; the Gypsy motif; "Gypsy Camp" 1949. Part 3 Issues in Gypsy studies scholarship: Irving Brown, the American borrow; conclusion - materials of an "undisciplined" social science.