ECMI co-organizes ECPR workshop on European minority empowerment

Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet MainzHow can Europe move beyond protection towards empowerment of minorities? This is one of the given questions of an ECPR workshop co-organized by ECMI Director Tove Malloy in Mainz next week.

The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) convenes its 41st Joint Session of Workshops in Mainz in the coming week. From 11-16 March the workshops are carried out at the Johannes Gutenberg Universität in Mainz. Dr. Tove H. Malloy, Director of European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI), and David J. Galbreath of the University of Bath are organizers of the workshop on National Minorities between protection and empowerment: Contemporary minority politics in Europe.

The workshop seeks to problematize the relationship between European minority protection and European minority empowerment. The point that Galbreath and Malloy wish to bring to the workshop is that the European minority rights regime has pushed protection over empowerment as a solution to the ‘minorities problem in Europe’.

The impact of the minority rights regime

According to the outline, the workshop aims to look comparatively at the impact of the minority rights regime throughout Europe. It will pay particular attention to European organizations, states and national minority communities. The workshop’s comparative framework will be based on the following questions:

  • What is the relationship between European approaches to minorities and the impact on the ground?
  • How have the ethnic conflicts of the early Cold War period shaped national and regional methods of ethnic management?
  • How can European organizations and states move beyond management and protection towards empowerment?

So, the workshop will seek to address and contribute to the intellectual problems posed by the way society and scholarship has approached national minorities between protection and empowerment. This is reflected in the papers selected for the workshop. The list of papers is already online.

The workshop is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (DFG)

Facts: The Citizenship and Ethics Cluster @ ECMI

The Director of the European Centre for Minority Issues, Dr. Tove H. Malloy, is also heading up one of the Centre’s research clusters; the Citizenship & Ethics Cluster.

The Citizenship & Ethics Cluster seeks to improve understanding of social cohesion through the lens of citizenship acts and ethical behaviour. The specific focus is on minorities as actors.

Social exchange in a broad communicative sense is at the centre of this Cluster’s research – social exchange exemplified in citizenship acts and ethical behaviour – and social cohesion seen as dialogical and inter-subjective.

The Citizenship & Ethics Cluster investigates two leading themes and a number of sub-themes in minority research.

The first leading theme, “minority contribution to society self-creation” evolves around the participation of national minorities in civic affairs and seek to improve understanding of national minorities as full members of society, i.e. active citizens contributing to social cohesion.

Although citizenship rights for members of national minorities remain an unresolved legal issue in some European states, citizenship is not only a question of de jure rights; it is also a question of de facto participation and contribution.

One hypothesis of this area of Cluster research is that minority participation is portrayed one-sided in minority research by emphasizing the non-participation aspect rather than identifying the positive contributions that minority acts of citizenship have offered in Europe and throughout European history.

While often considered “guests”, national minorities in European countries have nevertheless begun to develop strong tools of active citizenship often through volunteering, innovation and by building bridges between cultures. Such acts of citizenship form the core of the Cluster’s research with a view to inform the current discourse on citizenship.

The second leading theme, “ethical communication in the social cohesion of diverse societies” addresses the ethical aspects of social exchange. Narrow concepts of ethics, such as tolerance are generally hailed to overcome the tensions that inherently exist in diverse societies. However, experts argue that it takes pro-action to overcome tension as toleration is passive.

One hypothesis of this area of Cluster research is that the application of narrow concepts prevents societies from reconciling diversity in the processes of social cohesion. Citizenship acts of minorities are often proactive and have ethical intentions. While social cohesion in diverse societies ultimately requires the participation of all members of society in public goods, the proactive citizenship acts of minorities are not always taken into consideration.

Connecting research on citizenship and social cohesion

The Citizenship and Ethics Cluster connects research on citizenship as ‘Bürgerschaft’ with research on social cohesion as ethical communication in divided societies.

On the one hand, citizenship research has not progressed much beyond rights and responsibilities leaving little discussion for ethical action. On the other hand, social cohesion research has focused mainly on outcome and neglected the means of fostering dialogical social cohesion through inter-subjectivity.

The coupling of research on citizenship and ethics has the specific purpose, therefore, of getting concepts of action and deeds linked in an effort to theorize a dialogical type concept of social cohesion in culturally and ethnically divided societies.

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