Tolerance or Assimilation: The Legends of the Chinese Restaurant and "The Gypsy's Tavern"

  • Ivan Kovačević Department of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
urban legends, preaching tolerance, Serbia, Chinese, Romanies, restaurant, acculturation


Studying urban legends, the French folklorist Véronique Campion-Vincent posed the question of whether some of the more recent legends preach tolerance. The "elevator incident" or "swallowed ticket" legends display a different attitude to Others from that found in classic xenophobic urban legends. This different attitude is also to be found in two legends recorded in Serbia, namely, the legend of the Chinese restaurant and the legend of "The Gypsy's Tavern". An analysis of the two legends shows that the ambiguity of "tolerance legends" does not arise from the fact that they speak about a xenophobic environment while at the same time having a denouement that "preaches" tolerance, but rather from the fact that the "preaching" relates to those Others who have gone through a process of acculturation, who have been assimilated and who have accepted the rules of "our" culture. These legends do not preach tolerance towards the Otherness of Others but towards Others who are striving to become or have managed to become "Us".


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How to Cite
Kovačević, Ivan. 2009. “Tolerance or Assimilation: The Legends of the Chinese Restaurant and "The Gypsy’s Tavern"”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 4 (3), 67- 80.

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