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Searching google for an article I wrote on cats - a great passage about my father & the vlachs: proud son time

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 22 May 2017

I was trying to find an article I had written on how Greek kids torture cats but instead came upon a piece about Western study of the Vlachs, the Nomads of the Pindus Mountains. I have written (in Greeks Lesbians & Vlachs, HERE) about how this is one of my father's specialist subjects and who the vlachs are.  Anyhow, I stumbled upon this lengthy article "Aromanian Vlachs - The Vanishing Tribes" which included a section on my father which he will enjoy as it is very supportive of his work. This is the sort of thing to make a son very proud. It also, rightly, makes him seem a touch eccentric:

From Bronte Sisters to the Vlach Brotherhood..f rom muleteers' trains to Akropolis Express

I sometimes wonder what madeTom Winnifrith leave the chintzy universe of the Bronte Sisters and commute to the harsh,tangly and unrewarding Balkan Vlach topic...For nothing seems more conceivable unrelated than the rough sheepskin waistcoat clad Vlach as against the suavecrinoline of the English shires where professor Winnifrith seemed perennially and so securely stranded. Apart from these pure "sartorial" incompatibilities, it could be after all, I thought, that post-modern penchant for obscure lost causes (thathaunts some of us) and which determined the English professor to embracing a species facing perilous extinction.

It was the Daunt Books in London's Marylebone where I first spotted Winnifrith's book ambiguously titled "The Vlachs -History of a Balkan People"and I thought, instantly, at a book dealing with Romanians, since "Vlach" is just another -if slight obsolete- name for "Romanian" and Balkan Romance (as the last edition of Encyclopedia Britannica to the pointreveals)... Still, it was not the history of the Romanians Winnifrith was focusing upon but that of their close kinsmen, the Vlach populace of the Balkan Peninsula... Risky as it is to extract it from a larger Romanian context to which it organically belongs and try to clone and further present it as a distinct development, the history of the scattered Vlachdom is not the easiest thing to compile.

Yet it has to be said from the start that the Warwick based scholar's book has obvious merits notin the last for his stating of the identity of a people whose very existence is object of a careful camouflage. Winnifrith's The Vlachs soon was to become a ubiquitously quoted work (though not in Greece) and the author himself was paid anunctuous reverence, due to his presumed impartiality.When Winnifrith discovers them in 1975, the Vlachs of Greece were at the end of a traumatizing and torturous process of identity er asure. Roughly one year before, in 1974, with the Colonels’ Junta still in power in Athens, Vlach speakers stillrisked im prisonmentfor casually chatting in their language. The context was grim not only for vulnerable ethnicalminoritiesbut for anyliberal minded person: thousands, including women, were tortured and elementary if frivolous liberties like wearing long hair or mini-skirtwere liable to puritanical punishment

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
[email protected]
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