The nexus of national and diasporic minorities: investigating emerging minority interactions in Europe

The overall aim of the project is to determine the impact of intensified migration on the situation of minority groups in Europe. The objectives of the project are to trace these effects both at the level of policy – following the debates surrounding the relationship between the protection of ‘traditional’ minorities and policies designed with regard to the so-called ‘new minorities’ – and at the level of political discourse, as visible both in mainstream political debates and in instances of social mobilisation outside the sphere of formal politics. More specifically, at the level of policy, the project seeks to analyse the potential for extending certain aspects of the existing legal framework for the protection of national minorities (for example, the provisions on equality and nondiscrimination) to recent migrants, and the ways in which these could be re-designed for this purpose. At the level of discourse, it will factor in both academic debates concerning the similarities and differences between historical minorities and recent migrants, and the shared vulnerability of these groups to exclusionary rhetoric coming from sections of the majority population.

Project partners:

University of Groningen (Netherlands),

EURAC Research (Italy),

London School of Economics (UK),

Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain). 


Caitlin Boulter

Conference: What's in a Name? Extending the Existing Scope of Protection for National Minorities to Migrant Communities in Europe


11-12 April 2017


Villa Vigoni, Loveno di Menaggio, Italy 


The recent refugee crisis and the diverse reactions – whether at discourse or policy level – prompted by the arrival of large numbers of migrants in Europe have demonstrated once again, and beyond all doubt, that the accommodation of cultural diversity has become a pressing, central issue in need to be addressed comprehensively throughout Europe.

While the media, and oftentimes politicians, focus almost exclusively on the large numbers of migrants arriving from Syria and other conflict zones in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa, it is worth noting that this is only one aspect of migration; migration within the European Union (EU) is also a significant phenomenon associated, among other aspects, with mobility as one of the core values of the EU.

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In addition to the newly arrived migrants, diaspora groups, which arrived in Europe in the course of the 20th century, have now reached the third or even fourth generation living in Europe. Such groups cannot be accurately described as migrants, nor are they usually (with the rare exception of the Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic) officially recognised as minorities. National minorities represent another facet of the cultural diversity of Europe, usually understood as ethno-cultural groups with longstanding ties to the homelands they inhabit.

The picture of cultural diversity that emerges is therefore a very complex one, where categories of practice are frequently blurred, intersecting, or overlapping. When delving further into the differences arising from the varying socio-economic situation or legal status of sub-groups within the two main categories outlined above (sometimes referred to as ‘old’ and ‘new’ minorities, respectively), as well as factoring in aspects such as age, gender, or human capital, this complexity appears even greater. Moreover, while research on both minorities and migrants is primarily concerned with their respective interactions with majority groups, the multiple interactions occurring between minority and migrant groups, in what we tentatively define as a nexus of ‘old’ and ‘new’ minorities, remain considerably under-researched. This is partly due to the fact that academic research has so far approached the study of national minorities and migrants separately and in disciplines that do not connect.

Aims and Objectives:

While remaining aware of the different historical circumstances that led to the emergence of the two paradigms dealing with minorities and migration respectively, as well as their different meanings in different geographical spaces, the Villa Vigoni Conference aims to initiate a new research agenda that puts the two academic approaches together in an effort to develop a common conceptual framework for re-thinking diversity and diversity management, in both academic and policy terms, in a way which would allow for dialogue between this previously separated fields of study. The Conference will focus on reconsidering the ways in which cultural diversity can be accommodated, while at the same time promoting social cohesion.

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It will address the feasibility and appropriateness of extending the scope of the protections already in place for national minorities to other categories of population, having as central themes the clarification of the categories, usually comprised under the label of 'migrants', that are most likely to benefit from such protections; an assessment of the types of protections that would best benefit them; as well as the analysis of the feasibility of extending the scope of protections offered to national minorities to such groups.

In practical terms, the Conference will function as an exploratory workshop that will attempt to bring together in an inter-disciplinary discussion the conceptual frameworks, methodologies, and general expertise developed over time in the two separate – but related – fields of minority studies and migration studies. A programme with proposed topics will be circulated in March 2017. Expected outputs from the Conference include publishing the proceedings of the Conference in an edited volume and/or a special issue of ECMI’s Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe and, as a long-term objective, the creation of an interdisciplinary network of specialists interested in the nexus of ‘old’ and ‘new minorities in Europe.



  • Dr. Andrea Carlá (EURAC)
  • Dr. Andreea Cârstocea (ECMI)
  • Dr. Eva Juarros Daussà (University of Groningen)
  • Dr. Iulius Rostas (Central European University)
  • Dr. Michal Vašečka (Masaryk University and ECRI)
  • Dr. Raul Cârstocea, (ECMI)
  • Dr. Reetta Toivanen (University of Helsinki and ECRI)
  • Dr. Roberta Medda-Windischer (EURAC)
  • Dr. Tilman Lanz (University of Groningen)
  • Dr. Zenia Hellgren (GRITIM, Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
  • Prof. Ayse Caglar (University of Vienna)
  • Prof. Dr. Christian Joppke (University of Bern and Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration)
  • Prof. Francesco Palermo (EURAC and University of Verona)
  • Prof. Garbi Schmidt (Roskilde University)
  • Prof. Joseph Marko (University of Graz and EURAC)
  • Prof. Matthias Koenig (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
  • Prof. Rainer Hofmann (University of Frankfurt)
  • Prof. Tariq Modood (Research Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, Bristol University)
  • Prof. Tove H. Malloy (ECMI and FCNM)
  • Prof. Will Kymlicka (Queen’s University in Kingston)


The conference is organised jointly by the ECMI and the Institute for Minority Rights at the European Academy in Bolzano/Bozen. The conference is funded by the Villa Vigoni German-Italian Centre for European Excellence, an initiative of the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG).

ECMI founders:

The German Federal GovernmentThe German
Federal Government
The Danish GovernmentThe Danish
The Federal State Schleswig-HolsteinThe Federal State