Fortune-telling serves as a major source of income for the Romani people in the United States today. The goals of this work were to examine and understand Romani fortune-telling as folkloric performance, to explore the nature of its significance as an enduring traditional occupation in the context of Romani culture, and to discover the range of needs it fills in the non-Romani world. Research methods included a field study of Romani fortune-telling performances in several regions of the U.S., participant observation of Romani culture, field exploration of customer populations, and secondary source research. Romani fortune-telling was discovered to provide an important means of reinforcement of Romani women's cultural roles and Romani worldview and to be facilitated by sociolinguistic factors including the Rom's possession of their own language. Essential elements of the process of Romani fortune-telling are outlined, four types of events are identified, and sample texts are presented. This analysis is followed by scrutiny of fortune-telling's varied clientele in the U.S. and the niches that the practice fills in certain sectors of American society. Finally, the work concludes that the adaptability and flexibility of Romani fortune-telling over time and space have enabled it to continue to serve as a form of entertainment, occultism, divination, prophecy, and healing for certain segments of the population. The author's predictions regarding the future of Romani fortune-telling and its role in American culture are presented in a concluding statement.
Thesis (Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife)--Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, 1987. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 49-02, Section: A, page: 0318. Supervisor: Kenneth S. Goldstein.