common ground

Roma Gypsies/Spinning the Globe

Program 0225 June 18, 2002

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(This text has been professionally transcribed, however, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.)

KEITH PORTER: This week on Common Ground, the plight of Hungary’s Roma minority. And taking a spin around the globe.

KRISTIN MCHUGH: Common Ground is a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. It’s produced by the Stanley Foundation. I’m Kristin McHugh.

PORTER: And I’m Keith Porter. The nearly six million gypsies, or Roma, who live in the countries of East Central Europe, face poverty, unemployment, and oftentimes intense discrimination. Over a decade after the fall of communism, the region’s governments have slowly begun to address the needs of their Roma minority populations.

MCHUGH: And as Common Ground’s Drew Leifheit reports, sometimes a bit of encouragement from the international community can help push things forward.

[sound of people talking, with vehicle traffic in the background]

DREW LEIFHEIT: Cars and trucks roar by a dumpster overflowing with garbage on a muddy driveway leading to the place AnikaDorogi calls home. The walls are dingy and crumbling inside the hallway leading to the small apartment she shares with her husband and five kids.

[a baby cries and screams]

ANIKA DOROGI: [via a translator] This place isn’t very hygienic. It has to be cleaned every day so the children don’t get an infection. With the iron works so nearby we live in the middle of an industrial zone and we can’t do much about it. Three of my kids are terminally ill from this, and they picked it up right here at home.

LEIFHEIT: As members of Hungary’s Roma minority, about 500,000 of the total Hungarian population of ten million, Dorogi feels discrimination is partly to blame for her family’s precarious living situation. Even though the district government placed them in this building on Budapest’s CsepelIsland, no one told the family—nor anyone else living in the building—that it had been sold to a private company about four years ago.

DOROGI: [via a translator] If Hungarians lived here they would have been transferred to a nice place a long time ago. But because we’re gypsies, they let us rot. They don’t pay any attention to the fact that they provided us with this place. We didn’t just move in here. They gave all of us one of these apartments, and the end result is we’ll be on the street eventually if the authorities don’t come up with some decision.

LEIFHEIT: Even though this family has always paid the rent and utility bills on time, they and others could be removed from their homes at any time in accordance with the so-called “Eviction Law,” passed last year by the Hungarian Parliament. Because the eviction law predominantly affects the mostly poor Roma population, it and housing discrimination in general are problems that need to be addressed in Hungary, according to Claude Cahn, publications officer at the EuropeanRomaRightsCenter in Budapest.

CLAUDE CAHN: We now have the prospect that city officials evict on the basis of, of various criteria, some of them very arbitrary. The police implement the eviction. A court may, one or one and a half years later, rule that the eviction itself was illegal and that the person should not have been evicted. However, they will have been homeless or, or—I mean, they may have been homeless for a year and a half since then—one to one and a half years is average court backlog in Hungary. And as a result, we are seeing a dramatic rise in homelessness, Romany and non-Romany homelessness. But most of the reports are that it is disproportionately falling against Roma, and that in many of the cases what is defined as illegal tenancy is very, very shaky.

LEIFHEIT:AladarHorvah, Director of the Roma Citizen Foundation, says his organization has done everything in its power to try and defeat the eviction law, which he considers antisocial because it puts the financial interests of property owners above the rights of tenants.

ALADAR HORVAH: [via a translator] There are so many disputes with the landlords that if they’re decided subjectively, by the notary and not the courts, families who have no means of defense can end up on the streets. Sometimes they are living there illegally, but maybe they’ve been deceived. People in bad straits are pushed into an even worse situation.

LEIFHEIT:Horvah says a number of civic groups drafted a letter to parliament protesting the law.

HORVAH: [via a translator] Their answers didn’t address our concerns. They basically said, parliament accepted this law and it’s democratic, that only the constitutional court can change it or kill it. Furthermore, they claim the government’s housing agenda will give the poor opportunities to work honestly and buy an apartment. It was a cynical reply and we’ve asked our ombudsman to turn to the constitutional court.

LEIFHEIT: In addition to contending the law is unconstitutional, Horvah believes the eviction law, which oftentimes separates parents from their children, actually costs the state much more money than it does to let Roma stay in their sometimes squalid surroundings. The fuzzy nature of the eviction law and its implementation created an international controversy in the Hungarian countryside earlier this year. The mayor of the Hungarian town of Zamoly, who had previously expressed his intentions to rid the community of gypsies, capitalized on a natural disaster in the town. When a weather storm badly damaged a building inhabited primarily by Roma, the mayor declared it unsafe for them to live there. The RomaPressCenter’s GaborMiklossy has been following the story.

GABOR MIKLOSSY: The families were moved into the cultural center of the village. But, of course, the whole situation was very, very strange. And the public administration of the county decided, or ruled, about a year later that the mayor’s decision to demolish the houses was completely against the law. But that, then of course, it was too late. There were many conflicts with the villagers because they were living in the cultural center without any hope of ever being able to have their own houses again. Then the national gypsy government, the national Roma self-government, intervened. And they decided to buy the Roma construction lots and to built them wooden houses.

LEIFHEIT: The controversy didn’t end there, but erupted into violence as youths from a neighboring village attacked some of the Roma community, and one of the attackers was killed. Following the violence about eight Roma families traveled to Strasbourg, France, to seek political asylum. And nine of the individuals actually received it. Miklossy says politicians treated the incident as a betrayal of Hungary, insinuating that the Roma were actually criminals who had fooled France into granting them political asylum.

[sound of Roma music]

LEIFHEIT: A few hours west of Hungary, in the Romanian city of Cluj, a group of young Roma dressed in flowery costumes sing traditional tunes, one of the songs about the Roma Holocaust during the Second World War. While such a Roma folk group might be typical in other parts of Europe, it’s a rarity in Romania, a precariously poor country with two million Roma, the largest Roma population on the continent. Twenty-nine-year-old Don Doghi is one of the performers and also a Roma activist in Romania. He describes the group.

DON DOGHI: It’s not only about singing and dancing; this is only a part of this. We have to organize weekly intercultural evenings in which to invite other young non-Roma and Roma to discuss and share about their culture. I, we believe that it’s very important. We want to organize a theater section, which means that a few of Roma which have this talent could manifest and express themselves within this section. We want to just develop some kind of multicultural center.

LEIFHEIT: By the end of the year, Doghi hopes the group will become an integral part of Cluj’s cultural scene. Doghi, who is also a program coordinator at a Roma community resource center, says he became involved in organizing Roma activities when, in the mid-nineties he saw other groups misrepresenting his interests as a Roma.

DOGHI: There was a Roma Party in Cluj. At that time, the so-called leaders of that party were people without any kind of education, part illiterate. But this, this wasn’t the main problem. The main problem was that they were evolved in other activities that are, are not moral. I, I was angry on this because I knew that there are many other Roma who could represent in a better way Roma interests. So I, I decided to, to get into this political structure just to, to see how it works. And I spent one month, let’s say. And immediately after that I’ve heard that there is a new opportunity to open a branch of another party.

LEIFHEIT: Following a training conference, Doghi set up a nongovernmental organization called AmarehPraleh, or “Our Brothers.” Being a Roma activist, according to Doghi, means being involved in NGOs and learning how to write grant proposals to international foundations. Still, he says it’s difficult to acquire funding for some of the seemingly most important activities for Roma—things like a legal defense fund.

DOGHI: So we are still waiting for somebody who might be interested on this, and to give us enough money to start the activity of monitoring human rights in Roma communities and abuses and discrimination and other such cases. But we tried for the last three or four years to obtain financial support. But they, they were not so interested on, on this because they said that they could provide funds only for non-Roma.

LEIFHEIT: Young Romanian Roma like Don Doghi are a sign of the future. The Executive Director of the Roma Resource Center in Cluj, Florin Moisa, says the empowerment of Roma in Romania is about developing the younger generation because of the poverty and isolation most of the minority population faces.

FLORIN MOISA: The majority is a mixture of tradition and other life. And this is not very constructive in this moment. So they have to chose what they want to be. Romania and the other countries in Europe, they don’t need a Roma population which is not integrated, which is not able to preserve their language and traditions and traditional trades. We want, in fact, a Roma community that is able to keep the traditions, to keep the cultural identity, but to still to be well integrated; to have a job, to pay taxes, to have social security, and to be fully participating citizens. Now, we’ll see that this is not happening. A lot of Roma are outside of the system.

LEIFHEIT: By selecting young Roma with leadership qualities, the ResourceCenter engages in training and outreach activities, helping bridge the gap between educated Roma and those living on the fringes of society. One of the center’s highest profile activities, according to Moisa, was prior to last year’s Romanian parliamentary elections.

MOISA: We selected a group of 34 young Roma with the aim of going to 30 disadvantaged Roma communities and making their information available on how to vote correctly, what they are voting for, what is the parliament, what is the president doing, how to understand the electoral process, and to motivate them to go to vote. And the project was called “Show You Care About Your Life,” you know. ‘Cause if you care about your life you’ll go to vote.

LEIFHEIT:Moisa says the activists exceeded expectations, distributing information about the elections to 67 Roma communities. Quite a feat in a population with limited knowledge of the political process.

MOISA: They can be subject to influence, a very easy influence from different parties or for different candidates. There were cases last year when they sold their votes, in fact, for one kilo of sugar and one kilo of rice, for something that was given from a party or another, or a candidate. They didn’t feel very well the connection between the vote and their future life.

LEIFHEIT:Moisa notes that the Romanian government has made recent strides regarding the Roma, adopting a legal framework to protect them from discrimination and an affirmative action-like program to hire Roma in social service agencies. Still, progress in countries like Romania and Hungary has everything to do with implementation. The RomaRightsCenter’s Claude Cahn says that for this, European monitoring is crucial.

CLAUDE CAHN: The publics of these countries badly want to be members of the European Union and so we look to European Union recommendations as absolutely fundamental to changing the situation of Roma in central and eastern Europe.

LEIFHEIT:Cahn adds that although international criticism can be embarrassing, without the outside pressure the governmental policies of east central Europe are unlikely to change. For Common Ground, I’m Drew Leifheit.

MCHUGH: Spinning the globe, next on Common Ground.

MCHUGH: Printed transcripts and audio cassettes of this program are available. Listen at the end of the broadcast for details, or visit our Web site at Common Ground is a service of the Stanley Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts a wide range of programs designed to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world affairs.

MCHUGH: The Upper East Side of Manhattan is one of the most elite neighborhoods in America. At the corner of 72nd Street and Madison Avenue, a Ralph Lauren store sells $800 barn jackets and $7,000 fox fur bedspreads. Right next door is the George Glazer Gallery, America’s leading dealer in antique globes and maps.

PORTER: When Kristin and I arrived at the Glazer Gallery I expected oak walls, plush carpets, and soft lighting. What we found instead looks more like the overcrowded attic of an ancient geographer. As we walked up the steps to the small third-floor space, George Glazer himself met us at the top of the stairs.

GEORGE GLAZER: Maybe we should get some stuff out of the way so it doesn’t sound like when I’m doing it, I’m fumbling around.

[sound of Glazer fumbling around his shop]

PORTER: Glazer spent years as an antique furniture dealer in one of Manhattan’s prestigious auction houses. While there he fell in love with globes, particularly American-made globes. Nine years ago he opened this gallery, and despite its cluttered nature the collection is impressive.

GLAZER: Globes have so many things that are interesting about them. They have world geography, of course. They relate to astronomy. They relate to world politics. And they have interesting decorative art stands that are a product of the art period in which they were created.

PORTER: Do you see globes mostly as scientific instruments? Or are they decorative arts?

GLAZER: Well, the interesting thing about globes is that they are part and parcel of a few different things. They are decorative arts, and so they are decorative objects. They are also partly map. ‘Cause, and they have something called globe gores, which is the engraved map that is created in a certain way so it’s laid on the sphere. And then they are also scientific instruments because you could do scientific calculations with them. You could figure out world time, aspects of astronomy, aspects of the zodiac, things like that. So they’re really a combination of all three. Which is one of the reasons why they’re, they’re fairly esoteric. They don’t fit into one definite category. So typically for collectors or dealers they are a side thing. If a map dealer might have a few globes, or a scientific instruments dealer might have a few globes, or a furniture dealer might have a few globes. But because they are a part of all of those different areas none of them specialize in them as such. And that’s one of the things that I decided to do. ‘Cause I thought, that ultimately a globe is the most interesting collectible, the most interesting decorative arts object you could buy because it does combine all of those things.

PORTER: When were globes first produced, in what we would think of today as America?

GLAZER: Well, the first actual production of globes where they were manufactured, as opposed to maybe a one-off thing where somebody just drew a globe, would be by James Wilson, who’s considered America’s first globe maker. Wilson was a Vermont farmer and blacksmith, and he was determined to create a globe in the United States that would be on a par with British globes. The reason being that British globes he thought were—for one thing they were too expensive to buy in the United States. And for another thing they didn’t show the American West and the development of the American West in any sort of accurate detail. Then he learned all of that and he, it was a true American production. He made his own globes. And these globes are still around. They’re rare, but they’re not overly expensive.

PORTER: Do you have a Wilson globe here?

GLAZER: This is a James Wilson globe and you could find something called the “cartouche” on it, which is on a lot of globes, and that is the maker’s name and insignia. Here it’s called a “New American 13-inch Terrestrial Globe,” it says, “Exhibiting the greatest—exhibiting with the greatest possible accuracy the positions of the principle known places of the earth, etc.” He also talks about the fact that in the cartouche that it has the tracks of the various circumnavigators and new discoveries down to the period 1828. And it’s signed by “J. Wilson & Sons, Albany Street, New York.” See, a lot of the globes from the period were showing the new discoveries that were still being made or that had recently been made in the late 18th century. Captain Cook and in the mid-18th century, Admiral Anston were doing explorations. And a lot of times on American globes, still in the 19th century, you’ll see the paths or the tracks of their expeditions.

PORTER: For our radio listeners, can you give us sort of an overall description of this globe we’re looking at right now?

GLAZER: Well, it’s a 13-inch sphere. It’s got paper gores, which are—a gore is just a technical name for the engraved paper that is placed on the sphere and it has to be cut in a certain way. Then it’s set within a brass ring called the meridian and it’s on a nice turned wooden stand. And the varnish has yellowed so it has that old world parchment look to it. And then some of the tones of the greens on the globe have oxidized—that’s what happens to green over time. So, it has an antique look to it. Here in the United States you see that most of the West is just called “internal provinces,” really relating to Mexico. And in the Northwest, up where Washington state and Oregon would be now, it’s just called “MissouriTerritory,” the Missouri, named after the Missouri River. It goes all the way out there.

PORTER: Just roughly, what would you expect to pay for a globe in this shape, from this era?

GLAZER: This Wilson globe is about $8,000. So they’re fairly expensive. On the other hand, if you think of it in terms of the importance of the globe, that it’s America’s first globe maker and that it’s relatively rare, I think that it’s actually a fair price for it. But globes can—if somebody is interesting in collecting globes they can have globes from the 1920s or pre-World War II period for far less money, for $100 or $200; and then globes after World War II are really inexpensive. It has a lot to do with how common they are.

PORTER: If we were to look at a British globe from the same time period what would be, what would we see differently out here in the western part of the United States at least?

GLAZER: Well, the British globes were much slower to follow on the American West, especially in the early period. Although really in later, in the mid-to-late 19th century the British did catch up. Indeed, a lot of American globes in the mid-to-late 19th century were made by W. & A.K. Johnston, which was a British maker. But there are some funny things that you can see sometimes. I’ve seen an early 19th-century globe that calls the American, the east coast, the colonies, the British colonies, even though we had won our independence long before that in the 18th century. The British globes also might tend more to show the British, the British Empire. And here’s a globe from—this is jumping up a hundred years now—but a globe that I’m pointing to now is from the 1930s. This globe has in its cartouche, it says “The Commonwealth of nations in red.” And this was a time when they were showing the extent of the British Empire. And subsequently in the 1960s and ‘70s, even actually in the post-World War II, right around the time of, of divisions that were being made after World War II as part of the various treaties, a lot of these nations received independence, or achieved independence. And so now the British Empire as such would look a lot different.

PORTER: The old saying about “the sun never sets on the British Empire,” this globe would prove that point?

GLAZER: Well, at this time that was so. But now with, you know, even to recently with Hong Kong receiving independence from Britain, this is, this is a concept that was really more of a mid-19th to, I would say World War I, pre-World War II concept. And it’s not one that seems applicable in the world today.

PORTER: George, let’s turn around this way and look at some of these other examples you’ve set out for us here.

GLAZER: Well, this globe is called “News of the World,” which is applicable to your program. I’m told that “News of the World” was a, was and is a newspaper in Britain. This is a British globe. It’s called the “News of the World Business Globe,” from the 1930s. It’s showing steamship routes around the world. So as you get into the 20th century there’s an attention paid on globes to aspects of transportation, travel, international communications. Frequently you’ll see famous airplane flights like Lindbergh’s cross-Atlantic flight in 1927. Or the flights of the Graf Zeppelin, things like that. You’ll see steamship routes, which were important for international commerce. And you’ll also see airplane routes as international—national and international—air travel developed starting in the ‘40s.

PORTER: I think that we hear so much here at the start of the 21st century about globalization. But you see a globe like this and you, you recognize it as a concept that really has deep roots.

GLAZER: Yes. I think people thought of a lot of these things earlier. The concepts of internationalization of the world, globalization. And they were excited in the 1920s and the ‘30s with the idea of the shrinking world and how it all would become accessible. Because that was a new concept at the time. It has different aspects today with Internet and mass communication that have taken on different types of meaning or are advanced concepts of that. But these globes relate to, as I said, to transportation and also to communications. You’ll see the Atlantic cable. And these were exciting—which was in the 19th century, they built the, they put a cable between Europe and the Northeast for communications. And these were very exciting concepts at the time—that you could communicate with Europe relatively quickly. And they were new concepts. Now we take a lot of these for granted.

PORTER: George, one of the things I really like here is this little globe. At the bottom it says, “World Bank.” Now we know what the World Bank is today, but I don’t think that’s what they meant at the time.

GLAZER: Right. This is just a world bank, not the World Bank. And globes could be objects, because they are a sphere and a lot of things—utilitarian objects—are in the form of sphere. You can make them serve two purposes. This is an American globe from about 1880 by the Shedler’s, who were German immigrants to the United States. And the globe gores are on a hollow iron sphere with a little slot and you put money in it. It’s a little coin bank. And they called it the—it says right on it—they called it the “World Bank.” Again, there are early concepts of international commerce involved there. It’s not pure coincidence that they selected that idea.

This globe here is called “The Magnetic Air Race Globe.” It was made by Replogle, which is an American manufacturer that’s still in business, from the 1950s. And it has, it’s just a tin globe with a very brightly colored blue oceans. And it has these little airplanes that are magnetic so they stick to metal globe.

[sound of metal clinking on metal]

GLAZER: You can hear them sticking. And there’s play money, and there’s little cards, and so this was for children who were interested in world geography and in aviation.

PORTER: You mentioned the way the globe changes after war. You mentioned World War I and World War II. I’m sure many of us and many schools in America still have globes that were created before the end of the Cold War as well.

GLAZER: Well, there are globes—of course a lot of globes were made in the ‘60s and ‘70s, they were mass produced in this period and they are still around and they show divisions in the—of course they show the Soviet Union, which is now divided into different countries. Things like that. Especially with the end of the Cold War. So they would be antiquated in that sense, if they were before the breakup of the Soviet Union. And one of the ways you can tell globes from the early 20th century is you look and see whether it shows St. Petersburg. And if it shows St. Petersburg the globe was before 1914. So that helps to identify it. And then if it shows Petrograd it’s about 1914 to 1924. Thereafter it was Leningrad. And so then back in the 1990s it goes back to St. Petersburg again, as Russia becomes a separate country.

PORTER: All this talk about globes may have gotten our listeners thinking about globes that they have in their house or globes that they have in their attic or their parents’ attic. What are the things that people could look for on a basic globe that would let them know whether or not it was something of value, or just sort of a run-of-the-mill, mass-produced kind of globe?

GLAZER: If you have an idea about the value of antiques in general and you’re familiar with that you could use your general knowledge of antiques and most of that would apply. Mostly globes that were made after World War II are not terribly valuable. Of course there’s going to be exceptions to everything. Mostly globes that were made in the 19th century or earlier do have good value. Collecting depends upon a lot of factors. It depends upon rarity; it depends upon the condition of the globe. In order to begin to get an idea of what the globe might be, you would look for the cartouche on the globe, to see who the maker’s name was and see if it was dated. Unfortunately, in the 20th century they tended not to date globes, for whatever reason. So you might look at a globe and say, “Well, I don’t really know whether this was made in the ‘20s or the ‘40s or the ‘60s.” And so then what you would do is you’d look for certain geographical aspects of the globe that would, would indicate to you when it was made. For example, if you see Israel on it, it’s after World War II. And you could look at the nations in Europe or Africa or whatever part of the world you’re familiar with and see how the place names have changed. And for that you would be able to figure out more or less when the globe was made.

Also, sometimes you might look on a globe and see something, like for example Arizona, which wasn’t a state until around 1911. But it will, it will show on a globe that was made before that date. They just didn’t bother to say that it was a territory. So it can be a little bit confusing. Oklahoma is Indian Territory, would be before 1907. That’s another way to tell. Russian America for Alaska would be before 1869. Also, if you knew who the maker was. Most makers were active in certain periods. Also, the style of the stand would give you an idea of the dating of it. And then once you have identified, then you try to look for similar ones on the market. Sometimes what people can do is there’s a lot of Internet auctions now, including Ebay, and a lot of more common globes, a lot of globes from the 20th century that just happened to be sitting around turn up on there. And you could go on there if you want to collect globes; it’s a place to buy them. But the buyer has to beware because, you know, you have to have knowledge of it if you’re going to be buying it at an auction. But you can also look on there and see what other people are paying for them and get some idea of the current price range, at least in the auction, at least in the online auction market.

PORTER: To learn more about globes and about George Glazer, visit him online at Glazer is spelled “G-l-a-z-e-r.” For Common Ground, I’m Keith Porter.

MCHUGH: And I’m Kristin McHugh. Cassettes and transcripts of this program are available. The transcripts are free; cassettes cost $5.00. To place an order or to share your thoughts about the program, write to us at: The Stanley Foundation, 209 Iowa Avenue, Muscatine, Iowa52761. Please refer to Program Number 0225. That's Program Number 0225. To order by credit card you can call us at 563-264-1500. That's 563-264-1500.

PORTER: Transcripts are also available on our Web site: Commongroundradio is all one word. Our e-mail address is

MCHUGH: Cliff Brockman is our Associate Producer. B.J. Liederman created our theme music. Common Ground is produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation.

© 2002 by The Stanley Foundation

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