FellowAndras Pap
Project NameConceptualizing and operationalising ethnicity: Central-East European experiences
Host organisationInstitute of Sociology
Duration of the project19.01.2016 - 31.12.2018

Abstract
This interdisciplinary project—on comparative constitutional law, human rights and sociology—scrutinizes the theoretical and practical difficulties that concern the legal and political definition-making for ethnic categories and identification. The dilemma is due to the fact that race and ethnicity are fluid and ambiguous concepts; and privacy (data protection) constraints, and the principle of free choice of identity further complicate the subject matter. As a result, clear and unambiguous legal definitions are essential for minority protection mechanisms and social inclusion measures. Ambiguity in terms of the targeted communities and membership boundaries may even hinder the achievement of policy goals. Focusing on the unique case of the Roma and other specificities of post-communist new EU Member States, the project collects a set of case studies where there is a dire need for consistent and prudent law- and policy-making. The project applies a two-tiered comparison: Hungarian and Slovakian empirical findings (of legal frameworks and case law) and policy-analysis are placed within broader, European and American social science and political debates and discourses. Demarcating the similarities between two chosen Visegrad-countries and identifying certain Central-East-European (CEE) specifics goes beyond illuminating the peculiarities of post-communist societies and institutional arrangements in the region; it also provides a novel perspective and a better understanding of the issues for global professional and academic audience, whom the project aims to attract to Bratislava for workshops and long-term cooperation. Some of the questions researched are subject to extensive international research and public debate (in old EU Member States and the U.S.), while scholarly assessments remain scarce in CEE. Others attract global scholarly attention, warranting the scrutiny of the effects of the vastly differing social, political and legal environments.

Project Summary with Interim Results

A1)      Project summary

  1. Project objectives

The project scrutinizes the theoretical and practical difficulties that concern the legal and political definition-making for ethnic categories and identification. The dilemma is due to the fact that nationality, race and ethnicity are fluid and ambiguous concepts; and privacy (data protection) constraints, and the principle of free choice of identity further complicate the subject matter. As a result, clear and unambiguous legal definitions are essential for minority protection mechanisms and social inclusion measures. Ambiguity in terms of the targeted communities and membership boundaries may even hinder the achievement of policy goals. The project focuses on the following nine areas where there is a dire need for consistent and prudent law- and policy-making: (i) scrutinizing whether in law and policy-making the term “Roma” refers to a social class, a race, an ethnicity, or a national minority; (ii) assessing the free choice of identity as a legal right under international law, and its policy implications; (iii) investigating the phenomenon of “ethno corruption”; (iv) analyzing ethnic data collection in educational cases; looking into the questions of (v) of ethnic profiling, an (vi) the prosecution of racially motivated hate crimes, and (vii) institutional discrimination; (viii) investigating how the protection of the dignity of (the majority) communities is institutionalized in anti-democratic populist backlashes, and (ix) in unique patterns of intersectionality and intimate citizenship.

  1. Work performed since the beginning of the project, main results achieved so far

In the first year of the project, in line with the research plan, case studies concerning issues (i), (ii), (viii) have been written, and a significant development in research concerning (iii),(v), (vi), (vii) and (ix) has been accomplished. As a slight change to the initial plan, some of the initial research findings have been collected in the form of a monograph, which received a contract from Routledge, and is expected to be published Summer 2017. In addition to this, two papers have been published as book chapters by peer-reviewed international publishers (i.e. Palgrave Macmillan). In addition, one book chapter and four peer-reviewed journal articles have been published in the visiting researcher’s native language in Hungary. Also, a co-authored book chapter and two individually authored journal article have been accepted by a peer-reviewed international journal and a publisher (both expected in Spring 2017) and an additional individually authored, and a co-authored book chapter has been submitted for an international publisher. Furthermore, two book-chapters and four encyclopaedia-chapters have been accepted and are likely to be published in Hungarian, along three co-authored peer-reviewed international encyclopaedia-chapters, which are to be published by SAGE.

In the first year the visiting researcher delivered 18 talks/presentations in nine countries.

 

(iii) Expected final results

The project stipulates to deliver a monograph and nine peer-review-published papers, twelve conference/workshop/seminar/public lecture talks, and active research cooperation with the Institute of Sociology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences.