Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences - Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Caitlin Boulter

Caitlin Boulter

BGSS Generation 2017



Migration and the New Minorities Landscape: Between legal instruments, media discourse and self-identification



This research project seeks to investigate the changing ways that the category of “minority” is used in 21st century Western Europe from a discursive perspective, specifically regarding new minorities. The term “new minorities” is generally used to differentiate between minorities that either have formal recognition under state law and/or have been resident in a territory for an extensive period of time, and groups of people that have formed within a state due to migration from around the mid-20th century onwards. While the former groups are primarily understood to have become minorities due to moving borders, the latter “new” minorities are the result of moving populations. Not only does this new landscape of nationalities, ethnicities, languages and religions have ramifications for migrant groups, it also affects the relationship many autochthonous or traditional minorities have with their state and majority society. My approach locates the term “new minorities” at a junction between the interpretation of legal instruments and policy, the discursive framing of media narratives, and the self-identification of migrant groups (including refugees) within their host societies. Each of these three points of reference interact with the other two in complex ways, and by examining the disconnect and common ground between each I aim to provide a more complete understanding of how minority recognition and protection might apply within the current and future demographics of Western Europe, and specifically Germany, Sweden and the UK.