Europe's Ethnic Minorities

Topics: Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina, European Union Pages: 9 (2966 words) Published: May 12, 2011
Running head: EUROPE ETHNIC

“Europe’s Ethnic Minorities”
Jessica Williams
Instructor Amber Welch
HIS 306 Twentieth-Century Europe
March 1, 2011

Europe’s Ethnic Minorities
Since the 1900s, European History has seen its lows and highs when it came to ethnic tolerance and prejudice. The European Union has been dealing with discrimination for a long period of time. This conflict stems from the principles of social, economic and political modernization, on the one hand, and promotion of ethnic diversity and ethno-cultural specify, on the other, was particularly perceptible in the Soviet model of multiculturalism, which might be defined as ethno-territorial federalism. (Hall, 1995). The Soviet project of social modernization was accompanied by the appearance, encouragement and establishment of reified cultural differences by the institutionalization of ethnicity through the implementation of the korenizatsiia (indigenization) projects in the 1920s. (Tishkov, 1997). The political and governmental constitutions in the national autonomies were created in a means that mirrored the ethnic composition of the province or country. As a rule, the representatives of supposed nationalities prevailed amongst state or regional officials. The innovative political classes in the national autonomies were produced by enlisting new affiliates of the Communist Party mainly from the supposed ethnic groups. (Tishkov, 1997). As Tishkov states, in the Soviet Union, “[titular] nationality had taken on a new importance as an indicator of membership in the relevant social and cultural community”. Most of Europe's indigenous peoples, or ethnic groups known to have the earliest known historical connection to a particular region, have gone extinct or been absorbed by (or, perhaps, contributed to) the dominant cultures. Those that survive are largely confined to remote areas. Groups that have been identified as indigenous include the Sami of northern Scandinavia, the Basques of northern Spain and southern France, and a many of the western indigenous peoples of Russia. Groups in Russia include Finno-Ugric peoples such as the Komi and Mordvins of the western Ural Mountains, Samoyedic peoples such as the Nenets people of northern Russia. Europe is also where a multiplicity of cultures, nationalities and ethnic groups originated outside of Europe reside in, most of them are recently arrived immigrants in the 20th century and their country of origin are often a former colony of the British, French and Spanish empires. (Amin, 2004). The ethnic self-identification of Soviet citizens was institutionalized through the organization of government and administration along ethno-territorial lines and by classifying the population by nationality (Beck, 2006). In the final days of the Soviet Union, the world witnessed ethno nationalism emerging from the legacy of Soviet ethno-federalism and the institutionalized personal ethnic identifications of Soviet citizens. In Beck’s words, “the Soviet institutions of territorial nationhood and personal nationality comprised a ready-made template for claims to sovereignty, when political space expanded under Gorbachev”. The Soviet nationalities policy and its institutional operational were used to a greater or lesser extent as a template in other socialist countries. The similarities are most evident in the cases of the former Yugoslavia and, to a lesser degree, in Czechoslovakia; both theses states were constituted as ethno-territorial federations and thus the principle of ethnic/national difference was ‘constitutionally enshrined”. In these countries, therefore, socialism might be said to have naturalized and reinforced ethnic differences although such differences had been present as a political issue in Central and South Eastern Europe since the growth of nationalism in the region in the nineteenth century. In (former) Yugoslavia, for example,...

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