AFK-EuPRA – 12: Regional Case Studies of In-/Exclusion of Ethnic or Other Minorities and Peace Education

AFK-EuPRA – Panel 12:
Regional Case Studies of In-/Exclusion of Ethnic or Other Minorities and Peace Education

Ethnic contestations, particularly in nation states, emerge through controversies surrounding the access to public resources as well as the ability of (symbolic) self-representation. The marginalization of certain ethnic groups is often produced by a political economy of the centers ignoring their peripheries. This type of power imbalance often leads to narratives of ethnic minorities being composed by those in power, ignoring the voice of the minorities. This panel investigates the politics vis-à-vis ethnic minorities in respect to four different regions: the Azeri-Armenian mixed population of Georgia, the case of Serbia as well as the indigenous peoples in Norway and Japan.

Chair: Daniela Irrera (University of Catania, Italy)


Vadim Romashov (University of Tampere, Finland): Community Narratives and Conflict Avoidance: The Case of Armenian-Azerbaijani Rural Population in Georgia

The presentation focuses on ethnically mixed borderland communities caught in a trap of competing national narratives that spread from the surrounding states. It presents an ethnographic research on a contemporary rare case of peaceful cohabitation of two rural communities, Armenian and Azerbaijani, which takes place in Georgia’s southern borderland. The research examines the national and communal narratives of these Armenian and Azerbaijani populations in Georgia. The study focuses on the meanings that Armenians and Azerbaijanis attach to their actions in the relationships with each other. While living at the “edge” of the (mental) conflict zone between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the communities in question simultaneously resist both the conflict discourses coming from Armenia and Azerbaijan and the set of norms, rules and conditions imposed by Georgia’s border control and security policies. In the situation where the communal interaction in the border region is continually affected by the policies of the host and neighboring states, these Armenian and Azerbaijani communities tend to mutually construct their own communal narratives in order to avoid conflict and focus on the myriad of other things they need in their daily lives. The sources of such narrative-construction by the rural Armenian-Azerbaijani population in Georgia are their common routine practices exercised in a closely shared social space, collective (social) memory associated with the “best” time (as they often refer to the Soviet period) of their hamlets, relatively alternative information environment formed by Georgian media and political rhetoric that are more or less neutral to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, policies conducted by the Georgian state (especially policies of border control and policies concerning education and other spheres of social life), and a minor role of external influence from Armenia and Azerbaijan, and regional and global political actors. The collective interpretation of social reality allows these communities to develop a common strategy in order to keep conflict at bay for the sake of their well-being. To delineate this inter-ethnic conflict-avoidance strategy, it is necessary to trace patterns of social interaction within the Armenian-Azerbaijani mixed population that demonstrate how and why the members of both communities prevent the polarization of their “inter-national” relations, which is persistently promoted by a belligerent rhetoric present in each of their “national mainland” political and media’s discourses. The aim of this analysis is to identify whether Armenian and Azerbaijani communities are able to produce or sustain an alternative “imagined community” (to use the concept of B. Anderson) beyond that defined by their “nation-states”. This case study is representative for various ethnically mixed communities whose co-nationals in their countries of origin are set to be in conflict (in addition to the South Caucasus such examples can be found in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia). Understanding the ways by which ethnically mixed borderland populations are able to get past the conflict between “their” nation-states can help us understand how to prevent the spillover effect of  international conflict into the communities’ hosting state. The transnational nature of contemporary ethno-political conflicts that increasingly challenge border and state organizations across the globe makes this study highly relevant.

Stefanie Dreiack (Leipzig University, Germany): Challenges on Europe‘s Periphery: Inequality in Political Inclusion – The Case of Serbia

The peace and conflict management of the European Union on its periphery – the Western Balkan – seek to democratize the region and support the Western Balkan states by the perspective to become a EU member state.

In democratization processes political inclusion of all classes of society, ethnic groups as well as political, social or economic minorities is one of the crucial factors for a successful regime transition. Political inclusion covers a wide spectrum from the institutional guarantee of political inclusion (e.g. rule of law, minority rights, absence of marginality, and right to political participation) to the support of an active and participatory involvement of all parts of the society. However, a deep theoretical discussion about the nexus between institutional guarantees or an active and participatory involvement concerning political inclusion on the one side and their status in democratization processes is missing. I want to contribute to this discussion by developing an analytical framework for the nexus between political inclusion and democratization. Within this I do not focus on concepts like institutional guarantees or an active and participatory involvement of all parts of society, but on the ‘practice’ of political inclusion. The underlying thesis is, that despite institutional guarantees and participation opportunities which are inscribed in the regime in the democratization process, the most crucial point of political inclusion is the regimes practice against different classes, ethnic groups as well as political, social or economic minorities. Drawn from this, my argument is that in the same regime different political inclusion and exclusion practices against various minorities can stand side by side.

In the paper I want to pursue this assumption by using the case of the democratization process in Serbia and the political inclusion of (ethnic) minorities there. The case of Serbia is particularly interesting, because it has various (ethnic) minorities which form in certain Serbian regions and communities a majority (Albanians, Hungarians, Bosnians). In these minority/majority-constellations they tend to use different integration and separation paths within or against the Serbian regime (Autonomy, Secession, Violence, Political Opposition, Integration). I examine in the paper, whether the differences could be explained through differences in the practice of political inclusion against the minority groups. I study variances in repression of the security sector against political engagement of minority groups in Serbia. If my thesis is correct, it means to support not only institutional reforms and rights in transition processes, but to focus more on differences in the “day-today policy”: Laws and institutions are not enough – democratization also means to change the practice. To adapt the criteria and the supporting programs of the EU in this way is one of the main challenges of the EU peace and conflict management to guarantee a sustainable democratization process on its periphery.

Yoko Tanabe (University College London, UK/University of Tromso, Norway): The History, Policy and Legacy of Indigenous Education in Norway and Japan, 1850-2016

The purpose of this work-in-progress research is to examine the effects and implications of education policy for the indigenous Ainu of Japan and the indigenous Sámi of Norway in the late 19th and 20th centuries, specifically focusing on their schooling experiences. Drawing upon multiple theoretical perspectives, such as educational policy transfer (Rappleye, 2012) and Settler Colonial Theory (Wolfe, 2001), the study illuminates to what extent Japan and Norway share similarities/difference in terms of educational provisions for their indigenous citizen. The study also explores to what extent international discourse, models and agencies have influenced the development of indigenous education policy, from colonial, legal and structural points of view. The significance of this research lies in shedding light on the historical emergence of indigenous schooling and the long-term impacts of the education policy on the Ainu and Sámi societies, culture and languages.

At first glance, Japan and Norway seem to have few policies in common with respect to indigenous peoples. However, despite being geographically distant, stretching from the Far East to Northern Europe, the two countries currently share some commonalities: a strong economy and financial stability, a parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy, a comprehensive school system based on the idea of an egalitarian society, and indigenous ethnic minority peoples coexisting with a relatively homogeneous, dominant ethnic majority within the same state. Looking back at history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan and Norway had undergone drastic political, social and economic changes. For example, the Emperor of Japan restored to supreme power following the Meiji Restoration of 1868 which overthrown the Tokugawa Shogunate. In a similar vein, Norway regained its independence in 1905 when the union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved, and Haakon VII was enthroned as Norway’s first king. Japan and Norway pursued vigorous efforts to build a “modern” nation-state and forge new “national identity” amongst citizen; nonetheless they were relatively latecomers in modernisation and nation building process. Assimilating minority groups into majority society became one of the important political agenda, particularly from national security point of view.

Lokanath Mishra (Mizoram University, India): A Framework of Peace Education in Secondary Schools of India

ein Kommentar

  1. Alex Thattamannil-Klug · · Antworten

    Thanks to Yoko Tanabe and Vadim Romashov for the two very interesting presentations/papers!
    Special thanks to Yoko Tanabe: As an educational scientist ofcourse I was realy happy to see questions on education and colonialization discussed by Yoko Tanabe.

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