National Minorities in European Border Regions

Authored by: Jan D. Markusse

The Ashgate Research Companion to Border Studies

Print publication date:  July  2011
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754674061
eBook ISBN: 9781315612782
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043997

10.4324/9781315612782.ch17

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Abstract

Most states in Europe have autochthonous minorities. Since the 1990s these groups are mostly referred to as national minorities. The concept of national minority covers a diverse category of population groups. They are not all perceiving the same profoundness of their distinction. Some consider themselves as inheritors of a different language, others as people with a different nationality. They vary substantially in size and the corresponding scale of their area of habitation, from some tens of thousands or even less in a rural locality to hundreds of thousands or more in a regional homeland. These last minorities are the native population of a region with cities and a diversified economic structure. Because of this wide variety, it can even be argued that the linguistic groups in multilingual federations have the characteristics of national minorities. Most national minorities have their homeland in the peripheries of the state, in coastal regions or border regions. Some groups live entirely within the boundaries of a single state, but others are ethnically akin to the population across the border. Because of their diffuse institutional and cultural relationship with both sides of the boundary these minorities can be called interface minorities. Among the interface minorities are some that share their culture with a minority on the other side, but most belong to the titular nationality of a neighbouring state.

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