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Resandefolket (Swedish; literally "traveling people"; cf. traveling people ) or traveling or traveling folk (norw.) Are names for a historical population group with an unclear definition in Sweden and Norway with the special characteristic of permanent migration .

The external name is also used by members of the group as a self-designation, since it does not have to be interpreted in a derogatory manner, unlike the two competing ethnonyms tattare and zigenare (Swedish) or tatere and sigøynere (Norwegian). With travel a historically determined by economic, legal and social exclusion and socio-cultural solidified form permanent internal migration is meant that has been in families exercised and such. T. still will.

In the meantime, the self-designation Romanifolket often takes the place of Resandefolket .


Resande denotes in a broad sense both members of the Roma ethnic group and travelers from the Swedish majority population, in a blurred manner. In a narrower sense, the word refers exclusively to Roma. Research on the topic is poorly developed, but hardly on the majority of travelers, so that more precise definitions are not possible.

The exact origin of zigenare , a common European foreign name, is not certain. In general, however, the Greek word is used as a common linguistic root Atsinganoi as allegedly corrupt form of Athinganoi accepted. This was the name of the gnostic sect of the Athingan or Athingan attested in the 9th century (see also Roma ).

Tattare is apparently derived from Tatar . A popular interpretation of Roma as Tatars seems to have been decisive for this. The linguistic reference to Tatar can also be found in northern Germany, in Norwegian and - rarely used - in Danish with similar ethnonyms. Tattare is very disparaging .

Cigenaries and tattars are used as synonyms on the one hand, but also differentiated from one another. Here, tattare is the broader term that can also include non-romas. Both labels are rarely used today in elaborate communication, in official and unofficial language. They were replaced by romer , the Swedish plural form for rome , a self-term used by the Roma, which also displaces resande .

Majority social distinctions

In the political and administrative perspective, a distinction is made between Swedish, Finnish, traveling, non-Scandinavian and newly immigrated Roma. The assignments are not undisputed. They partially overlap or are questionable in terms of their timing.


The first Roma in Sweden are attested to at the beginning of the 16th century. Accordingly, a large group visited Stockholm in 1512. The report on the event speaks of “tater”.

In addition, there was a local part of the population who had fallen out of fixed living conditions and were forced to migrate with niche forms of employment.

The research does not make a clear distinction between “foreign” immigrants and the “outsider group” of the Norwegian or Swedish peasant population. It is also said that the respective interpretations are tied to “actors with conflicting interests” and therefore cannot be taken politically neutral to this day.

In the early modern period, the Roma in Sweden found themselves in a contradictory situation. On the one hand, they were not tolerated and, given entry bans, threatened with deportation or forced labor. Many of them were deported to Finland, which was part of the Swedish Empire. On the other hand, many Roma served in the Swedish military and found themselves there in a legally defined protection relationship. From there they partly managed to settle with the status of borgare (citizens). So it is documented for the 18th century for descendants of Roma who immigrated from France via Central Europe from the subgroup of the later so called Sinti .

For example, Hans Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen, an excellent expert on the contemporary military, had a "goat-hunky Rott from the Königsmarckischen peoples" appear in the Landstörtzerin Courasche during the Thirty Years' War, who had joined "the Swedish main army". Hans Christoph Graf von Königsmarck was a colonel in a Swedish regiment. After Bremen fell to Sweden in the Peace Treaty of Münster, the city became a Swedish recruiting place, where Roma also gathered. The Dragoon Squadron under Colonel Skantzenstierna consisted of 1676 to a third of "tattare". This is probably the explanation for the fact that some Roma families who have lived in Sweden for a long time have typical soldier names.

In the 19th century, travelers were increasingly confronted with administrative restrictions. These mainly concerned trade and vagrancy. In the second half of the century, the minority increased due to the immigration of calderash from Eastern Europe and Finland. The anti-Gypsy clichés common in the majority society of this time can be found in the works of well-known Swedish authors such as Victor Rydberg or August Strindberg .

Perspective typical of the time: "Gypsies" as wild, primitive and threatening in the "Gypsy camp", Sweden, approx. 1903

In 1914, an entry ban for non-Swedish travelers attempted to end further immigration ("Law regarding a ban on certain foreigners not to stay here in the Reich"). It was in place until 1954.

In the interwar period, the previous sociographic methods of description and explanation were replaced by racial biology. Science and politics discovered the "Gypsy question". This went hand in hand with socio-political and economic proposals for the sterilization of Roma as a “solution” to this question. In 1934 the Swedish Reichstag passed a sterilization law against "mentally inferior" people, which in 1941 was expanded to include medical and social indications. There was widespread support for sterilization in Swedish society. The two main motives were savings in public funds and the rehabilitation (sanering) of the quality of the population. Supporters included the already prominent scientists Alva and Gunnar Myrdal , who were organized in the social democracy . Even if, unlike in National Socialist Germany, ethnic and social groups were not collectively described and threatened as risk groups, the sterilization affected a large number of members of the tattare minority . 1,755 of the approximately 63,000 sterilized people belonged to the group.

In the 1940s, thousands were registered as tattars, or gypsies , pretending that the country might be drawn into the war. One of today's self-organizations, the Resande Folkets Riksorganisation, claims to be able to deport the minority to Germany in this case.

The knowledge of the mass crimes against "Gypsies" in Europe ruled by the National Socialists initially left the anti-Gypsy stereotypes untouched in Swedish society after the end of National Socialism. This is reflected in a widely noticed event in the city of Jönköping in the summer of 1948 . There, members of the majority population attacked the residential area of ​​the tattare , broke into apartments, partly destroyed them and attempted to drive the residents out of the city with massive attacks. The police were largely passive. A few participants in the days-long riot, in which thousands took part, were arrested, all travelers.

Since the 1970s, the minority has expanded to include migrant workers and civil war refugees, particularly from Eastern Europe. At least in this case it is not justified to speak of “travelers”.

Todays situation

The Swedish government estimates the minority at 40,000 to 50,000 people today. However, this information is not very reliable because official Swedish statistics do not make any statements about ethnic origin. Around 20,000 travelers are considered to have been Swedish for a long time. A minority of 3,200 Finnish Kalé Roma have been moving between Finland and Sweden for generations and a second minority of 2,500 Kalderash have immigrated from Eastern Europe for about 100 years. Around 15,000 Roma have only been in the country as “non-Nordic” since the 1960s. In the course of the dissolution of Yugoslavia, at least 5,000 Roma were granted asylum in Sweden. Many of the non-Nordic Roma families have biographical experiences from persecution by National Socialism ( Porajmos ).

The Swedish Roma have largely domiciled themselves since the 1960s. They mostly live in the big cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

Many resande now only speak Scandinavian Romani ( Romani rakripa ), a Para-Romani which, in its syntax and morphology, can mainly be assigned to the central Scandinavian languages, but still has a high proportion of Romani in its mixed vocabulary.

In the last third of the 20th century, Föreningen Resandefolket was the first self-organization for travelers in Sweden, which existed until 1990. It was re-established in 1997, but split over the question of the “origin” of the minority. Since 2000 there are two imperial associations: Resandefolkets Romanoa Riksorganisation and a Riksförbundet Roma. In Norway, the Romanifolkets Landsforening (RFL) was established in 1995 in the course of "identity-political mobilization"

In 1998, the Norwegian government issued a public declaration apologizing for its shared responsibility for the repressive stance of the Church of Norway's homeless mission and for the attacks against travelers in its "colony" Sandviken. In 2000 the Swedish government issued a public statement apologizing and assuming responsibility for the repression against the minority. In 2000 Sweden ratified the Council of Europe's Framework Agreement for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. As a result, Roma are recognized as one of five national minorities in Sweden, alongside Sami , Swedish Finns , Tornedalers and Jews . Their language, Romani , is - alongside Finnish, Meänkieli (Tornedals Finnish ), Sami , Yiddish and sign language - one of the recognized national minority languages. In 2002, the Council on Roma Issues was established as an advisory body to the government. The majority of the members are Roma. It also includes the ombudsman against ethnic discrimination and representatives of the national integration office. The chairman is the Minister for Democracy and Integration.

While on the one hand some travelers were able to integrate themselves socially, many others still live in a difficult social situation. Roma face greater difficulties in accessing education, the labor market and the housing market than others in Sweden.

Authors and literature from the minority

Among the Swedish kalderash, Dimitri Taikon was not only head of a large family association, he also stood out for his storytelling. There are extensive records of his interpretations of Roma fairy tales as well as his own versions of fairy tales and legends.

  • Dimitri Taikon, Taikon tells. Gypsy fairy tales and stories, recorded by Carl Herman Tillhagen (transferred by Edzard Schaper) Artemis-Verlag: Zurich 1948

A very well-known writer of Roma origin is Katarina Taikon-Langhammer (1932–1995). Her sisters Rosa and Ingeborg Taikon have a European reputation as silversmiths.

  • Katarina Taikon, Zigenare, Stockholm 1970
  • Katarina Taikon, Katzizi, 7 volumes in German translation [Topic: Life of a Roma girl in Sweden, autobiographical], Mainz Verlag: Aachen 1999–2001

The writer Kjell Johansson comes from a traveling environment. He has processed biographical experiences in his literature.

  • Kjell Johansson, The Story Maker, Munich 1999, 2nd ed.
  • Jonathan Freud, author of Zigenare i Tanto and Uppbrott, lived with gypsies as a teenager for many years. His books describe the life and suffering of the traveling people in the 30s and 40s.

É Romani Glinda. Den romska Spegeln is a network magazine published and developed by the Roma self-organization of the same name, which provides regular information on Roma in Scandinavia and other regions of Europe.

Web links


  1. For the history cf. also the short summary in: Sweden's Roma - A National Minority ( Online ).
  2. Bjørn Hvinden (ed.), Romanifolket og det norske samfunet, Vigmostad / Bjørke 2000, pp. 195–226, here p. 204.
  3. Cf. the following information on the name groups Laurin / Lagarin and Laphore / Laforêt here and from Ulrich Friedrich Opfermann, "Seye not a goatuner, but imperial cornet". Sinti in the 17th and 18th centuries, Berlin 2007, passim.
  4. Quoted from: Ulrich Friedrich Opfermann, "Seye no goat tuner, but imperial cornet". Sinti in the 17th and 18th centuries, Berlin 2007, p. 223f.
  5. Ulrich Friedrich Opfermann, "Seye no goat tuna, but imperial cornet". Sinti in the 17th and 18th centuries, Berlin 2007, p. 228.
  6. François de Vaux de Foletier, Mille ans d'histoire des Tsiganes, Paris 1970, p 122f.
  7. The following information is essentially based on: Archived copy ( Memento from September 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive ).
  8. ^ Victor Rydberg, Singoalla, Göteborg 1857; August Strindberg, Tschandalla, Stockholm 1897
  9. Bo Hazell, Resande folket. Från tattare till traveler, Stockholm 2002, pp. 84f., 105–114; ders., Man steriliserade tattare, in: Scoop - tidskrift för grävande journalistik, No. 3, 1997 (edited version of a broadcast by Sveriges Radio on March 31, 1997).
  10. Archived copy ( Memento of September 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  11. Bo Hazell, Resandefolket. Från tattare till traveler, Stockholm 2002, pp. 195–206.
  12. What is meant in a contradictory way is "Roma, including travelers", see: Sweden's Roma - A National Minority .
  13. Sweden's Roma - A National Minority
  14. ^ So Swedish government information ( PDF ( Memento of February 13, 2005 in the Internet Archive ))
  15. Bjørn Hvinden (ed.), Romanifolket og det norske samfunet, Vigmostad / Bjørke 2000, pp. 195-226, here: p. 197; Bo Hazell, Resandefolket. Från tattare till traveler, Stockholm 2002, pp. 45f., 67
  16. Bo Hazell, Resandefolket. Från tattare till traveler, Stockholm 2002, p. 114
  17. a b See information from the Swedish Ministry of Justice .


  • Karl-Olov Arnstberg, Svenskar och zigenare. En etnologisk studie av samspelet över en cultural gräns, Stockholm 1998
  • Allan Etzler, Zigenarna och deras avkomlingar i Sverige, Stockholm 1944
  • Bo Hazell, Resandefolket. Från tattare till traveler, Stockholm 2002
  • Jonathan Freud, Romer, Stockholm 2006 (autobiographical)
  • Adam Heymowski, Swedish "travelers" and their ancestry. A social isolate or an ethnic minority ?, Uppsala 1969
  • Bjørn Hvinden (ed.), Romanifolket og det norske samfunnet: Follow the rules for the nasjonal minoritet. Fagbokforlaget, Vigmostad / Bjørke 2000, ISBN 82-7674-663-2
  • Norma Montesino, Zigenarfrågan. Intervention och romantik, Lund 2002
  • Norma Montesino, The 'Gypsy Question' and the Gypsy Expert in Sweden, in: Romani Studies, 5 (2001), Vol. 11, pp. 1-24, online: PDF
  • Karl-Axel Jansson / Ingemar Schmid (eds.), Ett bortjagad folk. En bok där romer, zigenare och resande berättar om sitt liv, o. O. 2006
  • E. Strand, Swedes and Gypsies. An ethnologic study of the interplay over a cultural boundary, Bokrecension av KO Arnstbergs Svenskar och zigenare - en studie av samspelet över en cultural gräns, Romani Studies journal, 5 (2001), vol. 11, no. 2
  • Ann-Charlotte Nilsson Eisfeldt, Sonny Eisfeldt, Richard Magito Brun, Eisfeldt - en surrealistisk familj. Bohusläns museums förlag, Uddevalla 2014, ISBN 9789176862582

Web links