ECMI Publications Database
The European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) convened a workshop at its headquarters in Flensburg, Germany in September 2013 to discuss new approaches to defining a minority. The workshop brought together leading scholars and practitioners working in the area of minority rights in Europe in order to critically assess current constructions of minority identity within relevant multilateral contexts, including especially the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations. The Workshop sought to launch a new research project within the ECMI aiming to revisit the issue of a definition of "minority." The workshop involved an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including specialists in politics, international relations, law and sociology, who came together to discuss how to proceed from a shared understanding of definitions as contingent fixations of meaning within a particular law and policy domain in this case national minority rights in Europe. Participants came together on the assumption that no definition can ensure that a particular meaning will prevail forever, and that there are always alternative meanings which may challenge and transform the prevailing definition. Specific objectives of the Workshop were to identify the key signifiers currently being used by international, non-governmental, state and social actors as they engage with multilateral institutions in order to fix the meaning of minority identity in Europe. By examining the competing ascriptions of meaning now in use with respect to "minority", the Workshop participants sought to identify the struggles taking place over that meaning and to assess the possibilities for change.