At the IES the research programme bearing the title Ethnic and minority studies and the Slovene national question was founded.
Presentation of the research programme
Quality research of plural, diverse, complex and asymmetrical societies requires multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches which are gaining value in social sciences, humanities and other sciences, together with stability of research work. The ethnic dimension (including ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious dimensions) is a dimension of social plurality, diversity and asymmetry, which was relevant for the historic development of societies in the past centuries as studies show. Ethnic mobilization, generated primarily by nationalisms (nationalist ideologies, policies, movements, and parties), was an important factor of the political and any other social mobilization, and had an influence upon development in all spheres. Thereby relations between majorities and minorities, their regulation and management, are of great importance. Consequently the international community declared the protection of (ethnic) minorities one of criteria for the recognition of states, and the EU determined it the criterion for the EU membership and democracy. Disciplines and fields at the IES, employed to study individuals, groups and relevant processes in the presented complex contexts, include: anthropology, human rights, demography, ethnology, geography, education, linguistics, culturology, international relations, political sciences, law, psychology, sociology, administrative sciences, peace or security and defense studies, history, etc.
Ethnic, national and state identities are in Europe of primary value in the recognition of common characteristics and identifications, determining participation in the community and in the public discourse. This is ascertained by public opinion research (e.g. Eurobarometer) and by theoreticians. Ethno-symbolists (e.g. Armstrong, Hutchinson, A.D. Smith, etc.) concentrate on symbols, myths, memories, values, traditions, experiences and emotions which structure communities into socio-cultural formations that are experienced and lived realities, rather than just discursive (discourse based) formations. For constructivists (instrumentalists, functionalists – e.g. Eriksen, Gellner, Hobsbawm, etc.) ethnicities and nations (as a specific historic type of ethnicities and discursive formations) are a product of social engineering, social and technical innovations (e.g., literature, press and media) which promote cultural artifacts and languages/vernaculars, and establish nations as stable »imagined communities« (Anderson).These theoretic frameworks are the position for the study of ethnicity, identities, ethnic relations, relations between majorities and minorities, together with all their forms of appearance (positive – e.g. coexistence, solidarity, cooperation, inclusion, voluntary integration; negative – e.g. exclusion, discrimination, nationalism, xenophobia, crises and conflicts, genocide and ethnocide), trans-generational transmissions (of traditions, memories, traumas – e.g. Jurić Pahor), territorial and non-territorial boundaries, etc. The research program is grounded upon the eight decades of the research tradition of the IES, and upon the successful decade-long work of the research program, which – considering the human resources and infrastructure – guarantees the stability of research work and the covering of key topics, defined in the IES documents. In accordance with contemporary minority and ethnic studies worldwide, to which the members of the program group contribute (e.g. cooperation in European and international research and education programs and projects, publishing, promotion of research results, advising national, European and international institutions, membership in professional and advisory boards), the IES as the oldest institute in the field of minority and ethnic studies in Europe, has determined key complex multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary problem clusters and approaches, defining the theoretical positions and research contents:
I. Slovene national question represents the research tradition, approach and problem cluster which had been developed after WWI as committed humanistic, analytical and theoretical answers to fascism and denationalizing policies of the neighboring states. The Minority Institute, the IES predecessor, began researching the Slovene minorities in these states, but soon the research work was spread to other relevant topics – this has remained the constant practice of the IES. Continuous, organized, methodologically and ideologically supported research interest in Slovene (and otherwise) speaking and/or self-declared individuals and communities in Slovenia, the neighboring states and the former Yugoslavia successor states, in the context of European integration processes and worldwide (the diaspora) pays special attention to the research of ethnic pluralism and relations in these surroundings. In doing so, it arises from the principles of equality, non-discrimination and human rights, and within the latter primarily minority rights. Along with the developing of new methodological approaches, it studies the transformation of the Slovene nation and nation state (including the evolution of the concepts »nation« and »nation state«) throughout history, but also in the current social, economic, communicational, technological and other realities of European integrations and globalization. The tradition and approach to the Slovene national question are ideologically, epistemologically, theoretically and methodologically comparable to traditions of the same kind in Europe and the Americas. These traditions, of key importance for the development of minority and ethnic studies, were (and are) the basis for national and international standards of minority protection, policies and legislations, and they preserve their applicative and theoretical potential within the context of European integration processes, when they are gaining new dimensions with the development of concepts and policies of multiculturalism/interculturalism.
II. Minority studies are a traditional sphere, topic and research approach of the IES which, in the context of relations between »majorities« and »minorities«, as well as of their legal, political and public perception, study the perception, origin, development, management and protection of the perceived, expressed cultural, linguistic, generational, gender and other socially relevant diversities, determinations and identities in plural societies (from local communities, religions, states and cross-border regions to international frameworks). To the study of established topics, such as national minorities, minority policies, protection and participation of minorities, internal and international migrations, migrants and their communities, being formed into »new minorities«, integration and integration policies and measures, etc., new topics are added, such as refugees, asylum seekers, migration (emigration and immigration) policies, citizenship, new types of migration and refugee status (e.g. ecological and climate migrants and refugees), intercultural dialogue, concepts/policies of multilingualism, multiculturalism, interculturalism and trans-nationalism, (legal, political, social) management of diversity (by inventive practices), preservation and promotion of minority (lesser used) languages and cultures, study of politically and legally undetected immigrants and immigrant groups, etc. Basic research provides ground for practical, target, applicative and prognostic research and studies, the research results being directly useful for the development of (ethnic/minority, migration, integration, etc.) policies, legal regulation and system, as well as for the implementation of open, plural and inclusive democratic political culture, promoted by the EU as the foundation of the common, democratic and culturally plural European future and identity.
III. Studies of ethnicity, nationalism and border studies are a theoretic problem cluster, which, on the basis of the results of empiric research, analysis and problem assessment of other approaches results develops conceptual and epistemological approaches and theory. In the context of research of ethnicity and ethnic distinction (as a type of categorical distinction), and their practical manifestations, the following topics are relevant: nationalism and other categorical social differentiations (especially those on ethnic, cultural and linguistic basis); studies of social borders; legal and political perceptions of social differentiations and their normative regulation; studies of trauma, violence and (trans)generational transfer of mass traumas and of (social, communicational and cultural) memory; identity (self-declaring and adherence) – including multilayered, overlapping and hybrid identities; statehood – specifically in the context of European integrations and globalization; ethnic dimensions of international integrations and international relations; legal protection of minorities and its theoretic aspects; mobility and migrations; regionalism and federalism – including the relations center – periphery; divided societies, etc.
IV. Diversity management – the regulation and management of ethnic relations, early detection, prevention, regulation and/or resolution of crises and conflicts – represents one of the most dynamic spheres of minority and ethnic studies, as well as peace and conflicts studies. Plurality, diversity and asymmetry of contemporary societies are factors of social dynamics and potential sources of different interests which may become factors and/or contents of potential crises and conflicts. Efficient diversity management, whereby the IES primarily studies ethnic dimensions, guarantees social peace and coexistence, necessary for stable long-term progress of societies. By combining the concepts of crises and conflicts resolution with crises and conflicts management, new theoretic and methodological approaches and concepts are developed which make possible the perception, definition, analysis, understanding, interpretation, conceptualization and theoretization of relevant social phenomena and processes, which are the basis for the development of strategies, approaches, methods and techniques of diversity management and prevention, management and/or resolution of crises and conflicts, which always need to be adapted to a specific environment. They should define all relevant actors (international community, states and international organizations with their institutions, political actors, trade union organizations, civil society organizations, as well as committed and influential individuals, etc.); it is also necessary to define their roles (e.g. Žagar). The EU expresses interest for the study of these topics in general, and particularly in post-conflict societies in South-Eastern Europe. The adequate diversity management is defined as a pre-condition for the implementation of multiculturalism/interculturalism as well as voluntary and equal inclusion and integration of minorities, migrants and margin communities into European societies.
Considering the above listed approaches and thematic clusters, the basic strategic goals of the research program during the six-year period are: continued, integral and in-depth research of ethnicity and (inter)ethnic relations in all their dimensions and relevant contexts in Slovenia, Europe (especially in the neighboring states and in the context of European integration processes), as well as globally; focusing on theoretic production, which is the basis for applied, target and practical research and prognostic studies, as well as for publishing and dissemination of research results, which leads to the promotion of IES cooperators in Slovene and international expert and wider public.
The following priority thematic clusters will be – considering development– constantly updated:
1. Traditional national minorities and their status in individual states, as well as in the processes of integration and globalization; special attention is dedicated to evolution of state boundaries, to the issues of minority protection and participation, and problems of their relations with kin nations;
2. Slovene national question in the context of historic development, European integration processes and globalization;
3. Stateless nations and their emancipatory tendencies, regulation of their status within existing states or alternative arrangements and the impact upon international community;
4. migrations (internal – international; traditional (economic, political) – new (ecological, climate); voluntary – forced; legal – illegal); migrants and migrant communities, new minorities;
5. multiculturalism, transculturalism; multiculturalism, interculturalism; collective, especially ethnic and national identities – forming, preservation and development of identities; identification processes; language (especially languages in contact) in all dimensions, including the economic dimension, policies of multilingualism;
6. ethnic processes and relations and relevant social phenomena (deviant ones – e.g. xenophobia, racism, differentiation, exclusion, discrimination, nationalism, etc., and cases of positive practices); integration, especially integration policies; social inclusion and its wider context;
7. borders (territorial and non-territorial, especially borders in the context of integration processes) and border studies (in all dimensions); transborder cooperation, transnationalism; processes of European integration and its development (including the progress of federalism) – especially ethnic dimensions of the development of European integrations;
8. (trans)generational transmission of mass traumas, communicative and cultural memory;
9. diversity management and civic education and education for democratic citizenship, etc.
Proceeding from the strategic goals and above listed thematic clusters, the following concrete and applicative (measurable) goals are defined:
- continued and wholesome study of traditional and established topics, content-clusters and spheres, as well as geographic areas; care for their development;
- the evidenting of relevant developing new topics and spheres, that are to be given attention, as well as providing conditions for their development (also by gaining new projects);
- presentation of research and scientific results to academic and wider public – also to state, public and private (e.g. civil society) institutions and organizations, and to international organizations (through conferences, seminars, different forms of training, counseling, public media); efforts for the transfer of results into practice and implementation of (social, technological) innovations; counseling/expert help (membership in counseling bodies);
- presentation of research results to minority populations and organizations; counseling and help to these communities and organizations (e.g. help with organizing Roma counselors; cooperation with minority organizations and institutions in the neighboring states, etc.) and development of social innovations; cooperation with minority research institutions;
- inclusion of IES members into different projects in Slovenia, the EU and globally; cooperation with other program groups and research /scientific institutions in Slovenia and internationally – e.g. with the preparation, development and execution of the European and international projects;
- human resources development within the program group and new young researchers;
- quantitative and qualitative growth of research and scientific production, scientific and expert publishing (at least 15 articles and/or chapters in scientific monographs, at least 3 books, and/or thematic issues of scientific journals); popular publishing and scientific results presentation to the wider public through mass media, including the internet; regular publishing in the journal Razprave in gradivo/ Tretises and Documents– publishing press conferences;
- presentation of research scientific results at scientific conferences, etc. (at least 4-5 per year); (co)organizing of scientific conferences, seminaries, etc. (at least 2-5) – including the celebration of the IES 85th anniversary (2010);
- dissemination of scientific and research results through transfer into the pedagogical process at undergraduate or post-graduate levels, inclusion of members of the IES program group into pedagogical processes in Slovenia and abroad; cooperation at summer schools and the like;
- cooperation in the development of individual subjects and courses, as well as study programs of the first, second and third degree or undergraduate or postgraduate programs, etc.
Among the goals of the transfer of scientific and research results into social practice, we specifically state the strengthening of cooperation with potential users, as well as offers for the preparation of scientific and expert bases for the decision-making and work of state organs, state and public institutions and international institutions, functioning in the sphere of IES activities.