Mapping Marriage law in Spanish Gitano Communities


276 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-0925-6
DDC 346.4601'6'08991497





Reviewed by John Walker

John Walker is a professor of Spanish studies at Queen’s University.


It has been Spain’s fate to be the buffer state between the continents
of Europe and Africa. Cut off from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees
and a mere stone’s throw from North Africa, Spain has acquired an
image of exotic “otherness,” especially when viewed from a Western,
Euro-centric perspective. Drawing on the fields of comparative law and
legal anthropology, Mapping Marriage Law deals with the Gitane or gypsy
community, a key element in the formation of the nation, especially in

The book is divided into three chapters. Chapter 1, “State,”
provides an extensive historical overview of Spanish state family law,
from earlier times, up through the post–1492 Golden Age, 19th-century
changes, the 20th-century of civil war followed by France’s
authoritarian regime, and the now socialist-controlled democratic period
of figurehead monarchy.

Chapter 2, “Culture,” describes the origins, evolution, and
character of the gypsies, and their ambivalent place in Catholic Spain
and now in a multicultural European state. Chapter 3, “Marriage,”
deals with the role of marriage, ius commune (common law), hidden or
clandestine marriages, and the difficult-to-define place of Gitane
family law, with regard to church and state in Andalusia, Spain, and now
Europe in general.

Interspersed throughout the book are a series of fascinating vignettes,
snapshots, and sketches of local customs and activities, wedding,
celebrations, engagements, Holy Week celebrations, Flamenco music and
dancing, all seen through the eyes of the researcher. Drummond’s
analysis of Gypsiness/Gitanitude makes a valuable contribution to
culture studies and comparative anthropology/ethnography.


Drummond, Susan G., “Mapping Marriage law in Spanish Gitano Communities,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,