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Societies and Spaces in Contact

Between Convergence and Divergence


Edited By Milan Bufon, Tove H. Malloy and Colin Williams

This volume represents an inter-disciplinary discussion of some fundamental categories of convergence and divergence, focusing in particular on issues of both social integration and devolution related to ethnos as the space of identity, and demos as the space of polity. The aims of the book are to assess past developments within crucial parts of Central Europe where both conflict and coexistence potentials seem to best represent the actual “unity in diversity” managing dilemma in the continent; to provide an analysis of current approaches to minority protection, language planning, spatial and social cross-border and inter-cultural policies; and to develop an evaluation of the future trends and opportunities for co-operation and re-integration within a local and broader operational context.

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On the Side of Angels: Dignity and Virtue in Minority-Majority Relations (Colin H. Williams)


Colin H. Williams

Mutual respect is a much-prized characteristic of any social order and has been enshrined in countless legislative acts which seek to protect the rights of individuals and less often the rights of peoples as identifiable groups. The principle of fairness and equity would seem to be fundamental in governing citizen interaction, but as Lord Hoffman has argued the universality of human rights is culturally determined, largely a local matter, for different communities through their legislature and judges. Speaking of such views, Fredman (2015, p. 99) avers that while at the level of abstraction, human rights may be universal, at the level of application, ‘the human rights which these abstractions have generated are national. Their application requires trade-offs and compromises, exercises of judgements which can be made only in the context of a given society and its legal system.’ (Hoffman 2009). Accordingly, there can be no generalisable interpretation of each instance of a minority-majority relationship, but useful ←35 | 36→insights into the power relations and conditions of possibility which determine the fate of selected minorities can be discerned.

Because minorities are armed with a set of historical grievances against a state or a majority, they tend to presume that they have inherited a superior moral order to justify their demands and invoke recompense, reconciliation and reconstruction, all in the name of dignity and justice.1

That these moral imperatives are not necessarily shared by the majority is a source of continued conflict as...

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