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Ethnic or national minorities. Between renewal and permanence

Les minorités ethniques ou nationales. Entre renouvellement et permanences

Belgéo Review

Revue Belgéo

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Published on Thursday, May 02, 2013 by Luigia Parlati

Summary

The coordinaters of this issue of he Belgéo review plan to reflect about the "ethnic or national minorities", two polysemous concepts here perceived in a way opened to interpretation even if they are inscribed in P. Poutignat and J. Streiff-Fénart’s definition, when they state that these groups “only exist thanks to the subjective belief their members share that they constitute a community.” The minority group is dialectically linked to the existence of a majority. It can be said “ethnic” because of racial parameters but above all because of the presence of linguistic, religious, cultural or other discriminating and specific markers. The will to be different expresses itself in various ways – instutional or not – and leads to very diverse situations, located between resistance and cooperation, forced integration and autonomy. The way to name places, individuals, but also their status – granted or claimed for – their visibility in the social and political space, are elements characterizing the notion of “otherness”.

Announcement

Argument

The coordinaters of this issue of he Belgéo review plan to reflect about the « ethnic or national minorities », two polysemous concepts here perceived in a way opened to interpretation even if they are inscribed in P. Poutignat and J. S...’s definition, when they state that these groups “only exist thanks to the subjective belief their members share that they constitute a community.” The minority group is dialectically linked to the existence of a majority. It claims for the recognition of its difference. It can be said “ethnic” because of racial parameters but above all because of the presence of linguistic, religious, cultural or other discriminating and specific markers. The will to be different expresses itself in various ways – instutional or not – and leads to very diverse situations, located between resistance and cooperation, forced integration and autonomy. The way to name places, individuals, but also their status – granted or claimed for – their visibility in the social and political space, are elements characterizing the notion of “otherness”. The questions related to minority groups that the political geographers tackled in between the two world wars (like IB) are very varied and we would like to select just three:

  • Political links : the sharing of territories

Territory is a key notion relating the minority to the majority. The administrative repartition of territory can revalorize the space of existence of a minority as well as it can lead to its extinction. (see the Tibetans in China). To that extent, the Soviet Union provides a good example of a pseudo-national repartition which influenced many other federal states. Nevertheless, the logic of repartition is not only a matter of State: in the same way, minorities often claim for territories much broader than their administrative boundaries (see the Basque country, where the autonomists ask for a fusion with the autonomous community of Navarre, whose southern part is not even Basque-speaking). The question of boundaries between “autonomous” entities is thus muti-scaled (between regions, or States) and it raises many tensions.

  • Active strategies : synergy and cultural and political resistance 

The existence of ethnic or national minorities basically implies a three-dimensional interaction: minority, majority and States. The minority undergoes more or less developed policies of assimilation led by majorities feeling endangered. The central State – the Nation often – plays a key role in this situation. The notion of “restoration” is an important incentive in the state actions and the aim is the return to a mythical previous state of normality. But restoration can also be a necessity felt by the central State itself (local or regional) and each part has its own strategies. The minority groups have their claiming carried by various associations and political structures: political parties, cultural associations, local media, activists who may be favorable or opposed to the State the group lives in.  

  •  Multiculturalism and the opposition of legitimacies

We can observe the strategies developed by minority groups in nations more or less « officially multicultural » (Canada, Brasil, the USA, India). In these circumstances of recognition, the ethnic groups become competitive so as to make their voices heard as far as rights and claims are concerned. The variety of groups, the demographical realities and the capacity to be heard constitute a pattern of legitimacy of recognition and possible questionings about the definition of what general interest means. Canada sums it up through the sentence “ a community of communities”, but other examples are to be found. This third part studies the concept of “multiculturalism” in it ideological dimension: the name given to a nation made up of structured ethnic groups identified by the State (“official minorities” in the USA) Can we say this nation is “multicultural” if, for instance, if “inter-culturalism” (solidarity between communities) does not work or if there is in actual fact, a difference of treatment in the application of the “affirmative action” law? To some extent, can the very notion of “ethnic” or “national” group jeopardize the idea of multiculturalism itself?

Among some possible topics, but possibilities are wider :

  • National and ethnic minorities : new vistas and issues about the concepts ;
  • Identity and difference vs. integration or assimilation ;
  • Territorial issues between minority and majority ; managing, negotiating and manipulating cut-offs ;
  • Minorities and States, behind ethnic and national myths;
  • A geography of resistances and their strategies;
  • Minorities in multicultural States ; minority status vs. multiculturalism;
  • Competitions between minorities.

Submission guidelines

Belgeo (http://belgeo.revues.org) would like to publish an issue on ethnic or national minorities, edited by Franck Chignier-Riboulon, Anne Garrait-Bourrier et Stéphane Rosière.

Proposals (title with a very short abstract) are expected

before the end of June 2013.

Proposals have to be emailed to Christian Vandermotten (cvdmotte@ulb.ac.be)

with copy to

After the agreement of the guest editors and the Belgeo's editorial board, papers will be expected before the end of October 2013, and then submitted to a double-blind peer review procedure, for publication of the issue at the end of 2013 or early 2014.

In case of acceptance, please consider the "Note for contributors" on the site of the Journal, URL :  http://www.srbg.be/auteurs.htm#en and http://belgeo.revues.org/7117

Guest editors and scientific committee

Date(s)

  • Sunday, June 30, 2013

Keywords

  • minorités, majorité, minorité ethnique, intégration, reconnaissance

Contact(s)

  • Christian Vandermotten
    courriel : cvdmotte [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Franck Chignier-Riboulon
    courriel : chignierriboulon [at] free [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Ethnic or national minorities. Between renewal and permanence », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, May 02, 2013, https://calenda.org/246235

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