Embodying of the Gitano self: fiesta and identity among the Gitanos flamencos

  • Clara Chinoy Universidad de Sevilla


Flamenco does not belong only to Gitanos (Spanish Roma or Gypsies) and has transcended culture-specific beginnings to be considered universal. Yet it is the Spanish cultural manifestation most associated with Gitanos, by themselves and by the majority society, that is an important element of their ethnic identity. Based on many years of participant observation of flamenco in the context of the “fiesta flamenca” (literally “flamenco party”) we explore some of the ways in which the expression of flamenco singing (cante), rhythm (compás) (and dance as an occasional reflection of this music) is not only the means of entertainment, but also the language of communication. As a significant element of their identity, it is the cement, which holds together the participants, at the same time that the subtle but significant differences in the cante and compás reflect subtle but important differences of identity among different groups of Gitanos.


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