ARTICLE ALERT: South Tyrol and Åland: Collective Identity in the Interplay of Old and New Minorities

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Dosch, Jörn and Lakatos, Malvina. "South Tyrol and Åland: Collective Identity in the Interplay of Old and New Minorities." Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 20 (October 2020): 188– 207. doi: 10.1111/sena.12323

Across Europe, the refugee crisis of 2015 and 2016 triggered debates about the openness of societies as well as the nature and flexibility of the collective national identity. The Finnish Åland Islands and the Italian province of South Tyrol enjoy an extensive degree of autonomy within otherwise unitary states, and have developed far‐reaching legal and other formal mechanisms for the protection of minorities. The respective statutes of autonomy guarantee the existence and use of Swedish and German, respectively, and thus protect the status of their bearers in relation to the majority population. We argue that the process of gaining and sustaining autonomy has, in turn, created a strong institutional basis for the formation of the collective identity. As a result, the Ålandic and South Tyrolean societies have been flexible and effective in their approach to the integration of migrants as new minority groups. At the same time, neither immigration in general nor the recent wave of refugees has had a pronounced impact on existing concepts of identity, let alone resulted in a change to the way identities are constructed in socio‐political terms.