St. Jacques' Gypsies View Story | Overview

Perpignan St. Jacques
This project is about the Gipsy Community in the St. Jacques quarter of Perpignan, Southern France. With about 8.000 inhabitants it is one of the biggest permanent Gipsy settlement in France, and what makes it even more special is its location right in the city’s historical centre.
In the second half of the 20th Century, St. Jacques grew to be a little city within the city as Gipsies from all around Perpignan moved in. They are mostly descendants from Spanish Kalé (those being part of the Romanies) that migrated to French Catalonia in the 19th Century, and there are still strong links to Spanish Gipsy communities.
Life in St. Jacques today has little to do with what one associate with romantic or bohemian Mediterranean Gipsy culture. People living here mostly have to organize their lives in a way that is met with suspicion – to say the least – by their French neighbours, who like to think that Gipsies don’t like to work all that much. ‚Any time I go and apply for a job, the boss will send me straight home again as soon as he sees I’m a Gipsy‘, an unemployed youth in St. Jacques claims. This being a frequent experience, it only reinforces the overwhelming community spirit in St. Jacques - it’s ‚us‘ and ‚them‘. There are a lot of problems in St. Jacques to be urgently dealt with - unemployment, illiteracy and drug abuse not being the least.

Perpignan St. Jacques
This project is about the Gipsy Community in the St. Jacques quarter of Perpignan, Southern France. With about 8.000 inhabitants it is one of the biggest permanent Gipsy settlement in France, and what makes it even more special is its location right in the city’s historical centre.
In the second half of the 20th Century, St. Jacques grew to be a little city within the city as Gipsies from all around Perpignan moved in. They are mostly descendants from Spanish Kalé (those being part of the Romanies) that migrated to French Catalonia in the 19th Century, and there are still strong links to Spanish Gipsy communities.
Life in St. Jacques today has little to do with what one associate with romantic or bohemian Mediterranean Gipsy culture. People living here mostly have to organize their lives in a way that is met with suspicion – to say the least – by their French neighbours, who like to think that Gipsies don’t like to work all that much. ‚Any time I go and apply for a job, the boss will send me straight home again as soon as he sees I’m a Gipsy‘, an unemployed youth in St. Jacques claims. This being a frequent experience, it only reinforces the overwhelming community spirit in St. Jacques - it’s ‚us‘ and ‚them‘. There are a lot of problems in St. Jacques to be urgently dealt with - unemployment, illiteracy and drug abuse not being the least.

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