The all-Roma identity is denoted by the term romipen (romanipen,
romipe, romimo, cikánství) - "gypsyhood" and reinforced by a slogan:
"Sem (hem, isem) Roma sam" ("we are of course Roma", ie. we
are not gadže). I have heard this expression in all the Roma groups with whom I came into contact. (Declaring Rom identity does not mean that sometimes some Roma, not being able
to bear the stigma of "gypsyhood", do not pretend to be Italians, Hungarians, etc.).
The gadžo societies, for whom "all gypsies are the same" and who
in their laws and policies concerning "gypsies" were not able to differentiate between
the groups, (although sometimes they tried), were on the one hand (ideologically) petrifying
the all-Roma identity in opposition to gadže. On the other hand, in practical life,
they were strengthening the need and wish of Roma to stress the identity of their own specific group
amare Roma in contrast to aver/cudza Roma (different/foreign
Roma), ie. usually to Roma of other sub ethnic groups.
The amare Roma who have lived for a longer period of time in a
certain gadžo community have usually achieved a modus vivendi with
"their gadže". For amare gadže (our
gadže) they became naši Cikáni (our Gypsies). When for one
reason or another cudza Roma have come to the region (country), the
naši cikáni-amare gadže balance was disturbed and the revived antagonistic attitude
towards "gypsies" afflicted all Roma without differentiation. This outer factor helped to
perpetuate the law of "jati (cast)-distinction" which is rooted in
the Indian caste system. Its formal manifestations, observed by Roma until today, are still very much
"Indian"-like (endogamy, prohibition of comensality, avoidance of contacts, etc.).
The "jati-distinction", which in India was a distinction between
different professional groups, has in the course of the Roma’s history in the diverse European environment
developed into the subethnic diversity of various Roma groups.
According to Sutherland (1972), the Lovara and Kalderara in
the U.S. denote a subethnic group by the term nacia. The Roma in Czechia and Slovakia have no
such term, but they are still aware of the group boundaries between amare Roma
(our Roma) and aver Roma (other Roma). Though according to different contexts these
terms may relate to the unit of one extended family, to a "Roma settlement", or to a
specific region - basically amare Roma denotes a group which shares the same Romani
dialect (cluster of close regional varieties), similar habits, the same folklore, and a cluster of the
same traditional professions. Aver Roma differ in all or at least in some of these