Standard Article

Roma migrations

Migration A–Z


  1. Adrian Marsh and Norma Montesino

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm457

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Montesino, A. M. a. N. 2013. Roma migrations. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


To write the history of any population presents scholars with multiple challenges. The past record of any population group, in all its diversity and complexity, with a range of differing and shifting identities and a past of sometimes bewildering contingency, is inevitably one that seeks, to some extent, to gloss over this complexity and diversity in the interests of presenting a consistent “rational” ethno-history. The complexity of these challenges is illustrated by the contested nature of the nomenclature or categories that should be used to define the various groups that have been historically described as “Gypsies” (Roma, Travelers, Sinti, Dom, Lom, etc.) by others and sometimes by themselves (for example, “Egyptians” in medieval Byzantium, early modern England, and modern Kosovo). We use a variety of terms in this essay, including the plural form Romani peoples (Rromane dzene in the Romani language) because it reflects this complex diversity, one that is intrinsically related to the experience of migration. The recognition of the cultural, ethnic, and social heterogeneity of the groups included in the category “Roma” is in itself a serious questioning of consistent generalizing about “the Gypsies.” Existing research in the field of Romani history is in large part an investigation of the history of Romani migrations and the construction of “narratives of journey” that underpin the epistemological and normative assumptions made by many scholars and researchers. Such narratives have themselves become the basis for political mobilization amongst Romani people by autochthonous organizations, in the process of challenging discrimination and seeking equality, over the past 40 years.


  • ethnic cleansing;
  • ethnocentrism;
  • poverty;
  • racism;
  • cross-cultural