I was searching for an article this week I came across an article in the NY Times regarding (largely Roma) populations from Spain going to France to gather--and sell--mushrooms. As it was semi-related to our conversation regarding mushroom gathering a few weeks ago, I decided to read it. Although seemingly trivial, it raises questions about proprietorship, about the environment (and its natural resources), and about xenophobia (in particular regarding the Roma people).
In the US, we do not have a comparable population--many of us view the word "gypsy" as politically incorrect, and have only a vague understanding of the tensions (and often, the 'racism' or xenophobia) regarding these populations. I think it would be safe to say that Americans don't understand the position of the Roma in contemporary European society, nor do they comprehend governmental or national attitudes towards them.
In light of this, I would like you to think about:
Ownership: Who owns the mushrooms? If they are on french land, is it ok for non-French nationals to enter the country, take the mushrooms, and sell them outside of the country? If not, why? What could be done to prevent it?
Attitudes towards the Roma/Gypsy populations: Have they changed in Spain in recent years? Do Spaniards view them differently than the rest of Europe? How are they integrated (or not) in Spanish society, and European society as a whole?
As a bonus--and if it interests you more--I also found another article, written in 2010, that discusses how Spain's attitudes towards these populations might be distinct from the rest of Europe. http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2019316,00.html