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ECPR Summer School in Methods & Techniques 2020

Immigration – Empowering or Threatening Minority Regimes? An explorative case study of South Tyrol(I) and Scotland (UK)

Verena Wisthaler
European Academy of Bolzano
Verena Wisthaler
European Academy of Bolzano

Territories traditionally inhabited by ethno-national minorities — or nations without a state — such as Catalonia, South Tyrol, Scotland, etc. are increasingly confronted with large-scale external immigration. Thus immigration alters the population of those regions and by that impacts on the most important claim of minorities/stateless nations, namely to protect the distinctiveness and collective identity. Answers to questions such as “Who are we?” and “Who belongs to us?” (Bauböck 1996, 7) need to be re-defined, and this is, as argued by Banting and Soroka (2012, 158), the field where “the politics of immigrant multiculturalism meet the politics of minority nationalism”.
The presentation firstly elaborates on this particular nexus between immigration and collective identity from a theoretical point of view: How does immigration affect the collective identity of ethno-national minorities/nations-without state? Immigration might become a factor preserving and strengthening the territory and thus further empowering the stateless nation/minority, as argued for Scotland (Mitchell, Bennie, and Johns 2012) and the Basque Country (Jeram 2012). But immigration could also, as argued by Kymlicka’s (2001) pose a threat to the distinctiveness of the minority culture.
Secondly the presentation examines those questions by comparing Scotland (UK) and South Tyrol (I), two regions characterized by strong regional identities and a wide margin of powers to govern the territory, but also increasing migration from third countries. However, the two territories approach immigration in an opposing way: Scotland promotes a very inclusive national identity and welcomes immigration. South Tyrol, in contrast, would rather seek to limit immigration. With a longitudinal qualitative analysis of party manifestos and government programmes the paper argues, that power sharing arrangements in South-Tyrol, having cemented the historical division between minority and majority, are a main factor accounting for this rather exclusive trend on the level of discourse, but not on the level of practice.
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