Conference objectives

People have always been migrating. It was not until mid-19th century that this basic human behaviour was surrounded with powerful ideologies of the nation-state and its concerns for population policies. Not only was there concern about the structure of home population, its physical, mental, racial, moral... and otherwise health; migration from the country was increasingly seen as a transgression, and immigration as danger. Throughout the 20th century in Europe, borders between states were contested, among other, on the grounds of ethnic affiliation of the population in disputed areas. Diasporic ethnic communities in the neighbouring states and in far-away places were established, or else invented, as ‘severed limbs’ of the national bodies that were seen as historically, linguistically and culturally pure and existing in a correct national spirit and form, while diasporic communities were seen as threatened by assimilation, degrading culture, loss of language, and loss of national consciousness. Diasporic ethnic communities invented their own histories that span from colonial ‘civilising missions’ to political prosecution, to stories of dire hardship in the homeland that sent people on a quest for better life in masses.

Social science has long been concerned with these phenomena, and has a history of its own of the paradigms, theories, and views that range from simplistic positive ‘ethnic patriotism’, or, as Nina Glick Schiller puts it, ‘methodological nationalism’ (link) to a series of attempts at freeing the scientific research into these communities of interfering ideologies and prejudices of the state, folk theorising, and ethnic romanticism.

In this conference, of special interest to us is the way contemporary nation-states manage the relationship between themselves and the communities they consider their ethnic diaspora. To quote Glick Schiller again, “‘Long distance nationalism can be defined as a set of ideas about belonging that link together people living in various geographic locations and motivates or justifies their taking action in relationship to an ancestral territory and its government.” (link)

Our primary question therefore is how do the nation-states reciprocate these ideas of belonging, the actions, and the ancestral notion? How do they invent and instigate, ideologically, legally and possibly financially manage, maintain and support the relationships with their diasporic communities?

To address this question within a framework of comparative evidence, we are inviting discussion on four separate cases: those of Croatia, Israel, the Netherlands, and Slovenia. The questions we are asking are, among other possible, these:

  • what is the history of a nation-state/diaspora case?
  • which ideologies have dominated, and still dominate, the relationship?
  • how is the relationship legally encoded?
  • which forms of mutuality exist between the national and the diasporic communities, and how are they sustained?
  • which ideas and teleologies are being (re)produced in the relationship?

Conference format

All  four  selected  key  cases  –  Croatia,  Israel,  the  Netherlands,  Slovenia  –  will  be  discussed  in  the  opening  session.  Two  additional  sessions  will  expand  the  evidence  on  the  four  cases,  and  introduce  others,  by  the  selected  papers.  The  concluding  session  will  be  dedicated  to  the  interactive  debate.   

Organising committee

The conference is one in a series of events that the Institute for Ethnic Studies in Ljubljana is organising to celebrate the beginning of the 9th decade of its existence and continuous work in the fields of ethnicity, nationalism, migration and minority studies. The organising committee is membered by:

  • Dr Damir Josipovič, geographer and demographer, scientific associate at the Institute for Ethnic Studies
  • Dr Samo Kristen, historian, senior scientific associate at the Institute for Ethnic Studies
  • Dr Irena Šumi, anthropologist, senior scientific associate a the Institute for Ethnic Studies
  • Dr Cirila Toplak, historian and political scientist, Director of the Institute for Ethnic Studies

Note: keynote lecturer will be reported shortly.

Key speakers

Four key speakers will open each session:

  • Dr Sammy Smooha, Haifa Universtiy
  • Dr Mladen Klemenčič, Miroslav Krleža lexicographical institute, Zagreb
  • Dr Ton van Naerssen, Nijmegen University
  • Dr Irena Šumi, Institute for Ethnic Studies, Ljubljana


Four  to  five  presenters  in  two  sessions  will  be  selected  from  among  the  applicants  by  the  Organising  committee,  and  with  the  aid  of  keynote  speakers.  Precedence  will  be  given  to  junior  scholars  who  specialise  in  transnational  and  migration  studies,  ethnicity  and  nationalism,  and  other  relevant  fields,  in  any  pertinent  discipline.  Papers  on  nation/diaspora  cases  other  than  the  four  presented  in  the  initial  session  are  strongly  encouraged.  

Interactive audience

Aside to scholars and students, invitation into the interactive audience is extended to minority organisations, governmental and other administrative bodies and NGOs that concern themselves with minorities, migration and diaspora.