Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

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The Kalderash Gypsies of Russia in Industrial Cooperation of the 1920s–1930s

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Abstract:  At the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s, in line with the state economic policy of the time, which was aimed at industrialisation and cooperativisation, and also as part of the implementation of measures to promote a settled way of life for nomadic Gypsies, the Kalderash Gypsies became actively involved within cooperatives and started establishing artels (Gypsy production cooperatives). This article analyses the issue of Gypsy artels, their manufacturing activities, the reasons why they flourished, their decline and their subsequent repression. The study is based on documents from the central and regional archives of the Russian Federation. The historical experience of that period was especially important for the Kalderash community—the establishing of artels helped them to adapt to the emerging economic reality of Soviet society. Indeed, during the following decades artel cooperative associations remained the main form of production and economic interaction with enterprises and organisations. As such, artels existed until the 1980s and then continued to exist within the new economic conditions of the post-Soviet period. Later on, the state never provided special support towards the creation of the Gypsy production associations and took more severe measures to implement its policy. The experience of these cooperatives has also remained a vibrant part of historic tales and been firmly instilled in family oral histories. The historical experience of that period is therefore important for understanding and building a modern policy towards the Gypsy population and solving their social and economic issues.

Keywords:  artels; cooperation; economy; Gypsies; industrialisation; Kalderash Gypsies; Roma; Russia; Soviet Union



© Aleksandr V. Chernykh. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.