How Are Top EU Policies on Minorities Challenged Locally? – Lessons for a Linguistically and Culturally Sustainable Europe from Two Southern European Countries

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
JWS - Room J7 (J361) (University of Glasgow)
Eda Derhemi , French and Italian, University of Illinois at U-C
This interdisciplinary study investigates the changes that occur in the transmission of policies about linguistic and cultural diversity from top European institutions, to the level of state and town institutions, and finally as reflected in local community attitudes. Using a comparative method, institutional discourses are analyzed and their role as factors in the maintenance of diversity are weighed. The study determines that a sustainable Europe depends on how EU diversity policies are translated in discursive practices in the chain of transmission.

This case-study compares Italy and Greece, two EU countries with complex past and ongoing histories of emigration and immigration. Their legal and cultural situations are analyzed in relation to linguistic diversity and current discursive practices. I then predict their capacity to remain diverse based on their legal politics, discursive practices and linguistic attitudes, and the respective state of linguistic maintenance. Data from extensive fieldwork in both countries demonstrate mixed attitudinal patterns towards diversity, reproduced as collective memory and as new discourses. There is a correlation between institutional policies and the capacity to produce local xenophobia, or local solidarity and cooperation among different groups.

 I conclude that first, the local reach of EU policies is vital to sustaining an integrated diverse Europe; second, that best practices found locally among mixed practices, need to be shared. The historical examination of the relation between old and new minority groups in these two countries provides successful models worth considering while efforts are made to turn a sinking Europe into a sustainable Europe.