Understanding Ethnic Minorities in Eastern Europe

  • Citation: Stroschein, Sherill. “Understanding Ethnic Minorities in Eastern Europe.” Chapter. In The Routledge Handbook of East European Politics, edited by Adam Fagan and Petr Kopecký. Routledge, 2018.
    • Topics:
    • Country and Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • ethnic minorities
    • mobilization
    • group goals
    • Eastern Europe

The Routledge Handbook of East European Politics will be a key reference point both for advanced-level students developing knowledge about the subject, researchers producing new material in the area, and those interested and working in the fields of East European Politics, Russian Politics, EU Politics, and more broadly in European Politics, Comparative Politics, Democratization Studies, and International Relations. This chapter presents a summary examination of ethnic minorities in Eastern Europe. The chapter first provides a historical overview of the development of the concept of ethnic minorities, which will show how the emergence and change of state borders in the region have produced ethnically diverse states out of empires. Politically-mobilised ethnic groups first truly emerged during the 1800s in the region. Ethnicity was then subsumed within the socialist political structures but emerged as a strong political force in post-1989 democratisation processes. Following this historic and demographic overview, the chapter then sketches some of the key ideas on how ethnic groups matter in society and politics. The discussion outlines general dynamics of ethnic relations, mobilisation, and group goals, and then turns to ethnic minority parties, elections, and decentralisation. The piece concludes with a consideration of the promise and limitations of these general ideas in the complex ethnic context of Eastern Europe.

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