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Gypsies as "Marginal Man" in Works by Georg Simmel and Robert Park


The concept of the "Marginal Man" (or Fremde) central to the writing of the Chicago School sociologist Robert E. Park and German sociologist and philosopher Georg Simmel directly correlates to the processes of othering German Sinti and Roma. Furthermore, the explicitly stated exclusion of Gypsies as "Marginal Man" by Park, and the more subtle omission of the same by Simmel, perpetuate the same framework within which Sinti and Roma are seen as stateless Gypsies, or pariahs in any country. Critical engagement here with Park's "Human Migration and the Marginal Man" and Simmel's "Exkurs über den Fremden" is centered on the creation of the culturally constructed figure of the Gypsy that continues to shape the non-Sinti and Roma's understanding of an extremely diverse group of people. The two texts exemplify the essentializing discourse that leads to antiziganism. The terms Ziganism or Gypsysm, as used here, correspond to the mental, verbal, and visual constructs of writers narrating about Sinti and Roma. Metaphors, ideologies, and fantasies create a hostile reality that rests on processes of othering.

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