Stories on the food-begging Roma: Boundary making in the Finnish peasant homes

Eija Stark

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

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This chapter examines the power relations between the majority members of the peasant society and the Roma minority regarding food and eating in early-twentieth-century Finland. These narratives clearly indicate the relationship between food, power and ethnicity that existed in the pre-industrial agricultural society. Since folktales in the Finnish Literature Society are often short with no additional information about the context, the chapter focuses on traditional models at the mental level of the peasant culture. In societies of low population density and limited agricultural potential, such as Finland in the beginning of the twentieth century, the utility and scarcity of animal foods gave them high symbolic value. Historically, in early-twentieth-century Finland, the rural sedentary population that formed the majority of the country’s population was accustomed to offering food and shelter to travelling workmen, artisans, peddlers and the Finnish Roma. It is interesting, however, that the Roma specifically became the object of humorous food-begging stories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFood Identities at Home and on the Move
Subtitle of host publicationExplorations at the Intersection of Food, Belonging and Dwelling
EditorsRaúl Matta, Charles-Édouard de Suremain, Chantal Crenn
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781003085430
ISBN (Print)9781350122314
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2020
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book


  • Food Culture
  • Roma
  • Finland
  • Folklore


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