Letter from ‘one Egyptian’: first historical evidence of aspirations for civil emancipation

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Abstract

In 1867 in the Bulgarian newspaper “Macedonia”, printed in Istanbul, was published a reader's letter, signed with the pseudonym “one Egyptian”. At that time, on the Balkans the name "Egyptians" (Γυφτοι, Egyuptsi, Gyupti, etc. in the various Balkan languages) designated a community whose official name in Ottoman-Turkish was Kıptı or Çingene, and whose descendants today self-determine as Roma or Balkan Egyptians. This letter can be understood in the context of ongoing processes of national emancipation of the Balkan peoples, especially in the context of the struggles of the Bulgarian church community for exiting the Orthodox Christian Patriarchate, which was dominated by the Greek clergy. “One Egyptian” in his letter protests against the stereotypes about the “Egyptians”, which are reflected in the practice of the Orthodox Church, and advocates for the creation of “own” church, “own” language, “own” clergy and in perspective the creation of “own” education and “own society” (i.e. own country). In the proposed presentation will be analyzed the content of this Letter in general social and political context of the time and will be explained its main visionary ideas about the future of the communities that still live in the Balkans and identify themselves respectively as Roma or Balkan Egyptians. Along with this will be revealed the identity of the writer of the letter and his biography. The communities which are heirs of  “one Egyptian” living today in his native town of Prilep (now in the Republic of Macedonia) and their historical consciousness will be presented as well.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Gypsy Lore Society web page
PublisherGypsy Lore Society
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2016

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