An Ethnic History Of Europe Since 1945

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An Ethnic History Of Europe Since 1945 Essay, Research Paper An Ethnic History Of Europe since 1945 Ethnicity, the rise of nationalism, the formation of new nation-states in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and the peaceful split of Czechoslovakia have become central topics for politics and scholarship in the 1990s. Studies on ethnic conflict, nation building, and particular ethnic and minority groups in Europe abounded throughout the last decade. However, a cohesive book that provides a systematic and general picture of minority existence so far has been missing. Panikos Panayi’s An Ethnic History of Europe since 1945 (published in New York, 2000) tries to fill this gap for the post-war period. As the author correctly states, so far: “no

single author has attempted to examine the European ethnic mosaic since the end of the Second World War. The present volume is therefore the first attempt by an individual author to rectify this situation” (p. 3). Thus the author sets a high goal for himself in making a general and definite contribution to the field. The author structures his book into four sections, the first one dealing with a general introduction to European minority history with a special focus on the time since 1945; the second one locating this particular history within the wider framework of European social and economic history; the third one discussing ethnicity as the key issue of European minority history, and finally the fourth one describing the interrelation of majorities and minorities within a

system of nation-states. Section one briefly discusses the typology of minorities and gives the reader a short explanation of the concept underlying the author’s notion of minorities. The second section focuses on demographic, geographical, economical and social conditions of minority existence, providing the reader with detailed information about spatial distribution, housing, social cleavages and the incorporation (or exclusion) of minorities into or from mainstream European societies. The third section centering on the author’s definition of ethnicity discusses the politicization of cultural differences underlying his definition of ethnicity. The last section is dedicated to the role of the state in recognition of minority existence of minorities, and briefly describes the

role of modern media in their inclusion or exclusion. The author’s approach, including indigenous as well as migrant minorities, provides for a challenging intellectual comparison leaving the reader with the question of what the merits, but also the limits, of comparison are. The binding element offered by Panayi is ethnicity that sets dispersed, localized, or immigrant minorities (the three categories he uses) apart from majorities in a world of nation-states. Thus, at the outset of the book one expects to learn where the author places himself within the camps of scholars who have passionately argued from the mid-1980s on about the essence of ethnicity and nationhood. The reader is surprised from the outset that Panayi does not bother with contextualizing his concept of ethnic

groups and nations within these debates. Instead we learn that “ethnicity, nation, nationalism, nation state and minority each [...] have a precise meaning which have become confused by [...] over-use in the media and social science discourse” (p. 3-4). However, the author does not hesitate to attempt to enlighten his readers as to the precise meanings which have been lost. As we learn, since ethnicity stems from the Greek word ethnos and just means nation, “no difference exists between an ethnic group and a nation” (p. 4 and p. 101). Key to the concept of an ethnic group/nation are appearance (dress, customs etc.), language and religion and the politicization that revolves around these three factors. Within this triangular relationship the miracles of ethnicity and