Assuming that this is an interdisciplinary list, a word of caution may be in order in efforts to deal with legal definitions of such terms as "minority" or "disadvantaged". These are social categories, socially defined and constantly subject to modification and revision. MINORITY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH NUMBERS OF PEOPLES. It has to do with the ability of one segment of a society to dominate another segment. A recent example was South Africa (in fact all of Africa until relatively recent times) where the far more numerous indigenous people were a minority dominated by the decendents of colonial invaders who were few in number but large in power. South AFrica also provides one of many possible examples where the numerical majority may not only be a social minority but also "disadvantaged" in many ways. There are areas of the United States where minority people's far outnumber the dominant group such as the anglos in the South West or whites in certain parts of the rural deep south. I am sure this is all elementary old stuff to most of you, but for the non-social scientists on the list it is important to recognize that concepts such as race or ethnicity are socially constructed and very difficult for lawyers and others who prefer fixed objective definitions to deal with.
I can only agree with your comments to a point: that "Minorities" or "Disadvantaged" defined are subject to social constructs is fairly clear. However, this is only true in certain situations. Consider the standard defintion of "Minority" which posits hat a minority is a group of people who number less than another group of people (this is not subject to any particular viewpoint but is a simple demographic statistic.) However, when discussing power systems "Minority" may mean something different depending on the context (South Africa is a good example as you have described it). "Disadvantaged" typically means any individual who lacks the wherewithal to manipulate his or her environment (be it a political or social environment). This is not in this sense subject to particular viewpoints. Other definitions of "Disadvantaged" can be created that are subject to a particular point of view.
You concluded by stating that Race and Ethnicity can never be defined outside of a particular construct. This is absolutely false. Race and ethnicity refer to a persons inherited genetic makeup (color, features, etc) and a persons group identity based on culture, language, religion or particlar attachments to kinship or places). These are standard definitions of Race and Ethnicity respectively used by those in the social sciences, humanities, and others. You mention the legal profession and i think they tend to combine Race and Ethnicity into one to make things easier (I am referring to non-discrimination clauses here).
I hope you find this helpful.
Joseph W. Roberts
252 Orson Spencer Hall
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Phone: (801) 581 - 4262
Fax: (801) 581 - 6183
On December 23, Joseph Roberts wrote:
You concluded by stating that Race and Ethnicity can never be defined outside of a particular construct. This is absolutely false. Race and ethnicity refer to a persons inherited genetic makeup (color, features, etc) and a persons group identity based on culture, language, religion or particlar attachments to kinship or places). These are standard definitions of Race and Ethnicity respectively used by those in the social sciences, humanities, and others.
I disagree completely with this statement. Let us not fall into the trap of approaching topics such as race and ethnicity as naturally occurring categories. They are always, I repeat always, socially constructed. Joseph notes that race refers to genetic makeup. But we do not have racial categories based on all the different genetic characteristics of humans. The fact that skin colour and not height or nose length have been used to classify 'races' are a result of social choices. There is nothing natural about races. Furthermore, I'm not sure how Joseph comes to the conclusion that ethnicity can be naturally defined. Are political borders and religious beliefs a natural trait?
Pino Di Mascio
Faculty of Environmental Studies
York University Toronto,
I. Deutscher said:
Assuming that this is an interdisciplinary list, a word of caution may be in order in efforts to deal with legal definitions of such terms as "minority" or "disadvantaged". These are social categories, socially defined and constantly subject to modification and revision. MINORITY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH NUMBERS OF PEOPLES. It has to do with the ability of one segment of a society to dominate another segment. A recent example was South Africa (in fact all of Africa until relatively recent times) where the far more numerous indigenous people were a minority dominated by the decendents of colonial invaders who were few in number but large in power.(...)
Your suggestion seems to go well with the power/discourse theorie(s). However, there is one thing here that I couldn't like. If the "minor-" in "minority" doesn't indicate to the relative size of a segment of a society (as the etymology of the word would suggest) than it should indicate to where the speaker puts himself when viewing the segments of the society in question. In fact, stretching the term "minority" so far that it cover also the "oppressed majorities", sort of legitimates "the oppression" by "fixing it to the language".
## CrossPoint v3.0 ##
Definition is a good start for a discussion on any subject. However, I am afraid it may turn endless. There is a vast amount of literature on general aspects of minorities and thousands of case studies, and one cannot condense diversity of opinions into a series of short messages.
Along with J.Roberts I do not think Irwin Deutscher's approach is applicable in many cases. Irwin writes: "MINORITY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH NUMBERS OF PEOPLES. It has to do with the ability of one segment of a society to dominate another segment". This statement raises too many questions which cannot be readily answered: (a) What is society? (E.g. did the population of the former British Empire or of the Soviet Union constitute "society", and if so, in what sense?); (b) What is segment? One does not need to be a (neo)Marxist to prove that in virtually in any country it is some "segment", constituting a statistically small minority, which is "dominating"; (c) What is domination? In Madras, many Tamils believe it is the "North" and "Hindi imperialism" which rule the country, the Bengalis speak of "Delhi domination", while the dilliwahlas (residents of Delhi) think it is the Marwari, Parsee and Gujarati big business which has all the power. Similarly in the former Soviet Union non-Russian groups generally perceived the system as Russian domination, while many Russians believed it was Russia who was actually "feeding" the ungrateful natives, a kind of Red Man's burden.
Any definition of minority is relative and contextual. In the former Soviet Union ethnic Russians in non-Russian republics were minorities who constituted part of the dominating majority. However, as soon as the process of political liberalization began in late 80s, the indigenous majorities in the Baltic and Transcaucasian republics immediately turned the tables upon the Russians by adopting linguistic and other laws, perceived as discriminatory by the ethnic Russians, who lost some of their "elder brother's" privileges. Similar majority-minority issues are typical for most multiethnic countries of the Old World, particularly during transition from authoritarian to representative form of government.
Maybe instead of, or along with, the minorities vs. majorities issue, the discussion should concentrate on diverse types of ethnic stratification, i.e. ethnopolitical, ethnocultural, and ethnosocial at the national and ethnoregional levels, implying both "objective" (as far as possible) analysis and perception of the situation by the conflicting parties. I understand that in this case, too, general consensus over the terms is problematic, since in some countries (particularly in Eastern Europe and post-Soviet states) it is ethnicity, in other countries (India, Philippines) religion, and in the racially mixed societies, the race which serves as the basis for group identity, for the perception of intergroup relations and, very often, for political mobilization. No harm if discussion goes on in several directions simultaneously. What really matters (at least for me) is to get better understanding of on-going conflicts in different parts of the world, without being overwhelmed by such specific isues like the conflict in Bosnia or Azeri-Armenian controversy over genocide.
My other suggestion is to examine historical memory of particular ethnic, racial and (in many cases) religious communities. Their perceptions of history, particularly of relations with other groups, ethnic stereotypes and self-images generally serve as one of the basic elements of ethnonationalism (or other types of ideology) and political mobilization.
Dept. of Ethnopolitical Studies
Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow
[Note from Alan Spector: the following message from "Doris" is being forwarded to REVS via Robert Newby]
On "defining minority": see discussion below which began on another list (and maybe posted to a wrong list). If this is a repeat to this list, sorry for the duplication.
At Doris' request, I am forwarding the message below. I agree with Doris. The concept distorts reality -- it socially constructs a conception that "the problem" is one of numbers and not racism. Also, you end up with the situation in South Africa being one in which there is a "majority minority." People of Color is preferable to "minorities" in that the conception focuses on racism not numbers. With gays and lesbians, people suffering disabilities, and ofttimes women being "minority" groups, there is a need for more precise concepts. Rather than allowing the government to provide terms as concepts it should be that scientific pursuits shape the discourse.
This was just my $.02 by way of introduction, see Doris' discussion below.
Robert Newby, Central Michigan University, Department of Sociology, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859
Internet: Robert.Newby@cmich.edu, Bitnet: Robert.Newby@cmuvm, AT&Tnet;: (517) 774-3410
Please share my reflections with colleagues in the ABS network. A message received today has rekindled my concern about the matter briefly outlined below. I am also preparing a paper on the issues described.
For some time, many sociologists have felt that the word "minority" is a meaningless concept. Perhaps, with the rapid culmination of the 20th century, there can be constructive and genuine collaborative and implementable efforts to eradicate the word "minority" from the vocabulary of sociological inquiry and from "popular culture." It serves as a political tool that obscures fundamental distinctions in backgrounds, collective interests and needs of diverse U.S. populations.
In 1945, Louis Wirth defined a minority collectivety "as a group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination." Before his time and since, U.S. social scientists and journalists have accepted virtually unquestioningly this designation. With the new social order and political culture, the label has minimal meaning and obscures all logic as well as political and economic disparities. In fact, the word is analagous to DRGs and blends population sectors that have unique histories and needs, variable cultural experiences and collective identities, and extraordinary differences in labor market participation.
What form could rejection of the "minority" label take other than a series of debates about its outmoded usefulness? Tentatively, I offer the following:
Finally, I am not sending these reflections for confrontational debate via e-mail but rather for definitive and immediate action on the part of those who agree. For those who argue that the concept is meaningful, such arguments already exist and thus this message is not intended for them.
Thanks for sharing this with colleagues. I hope that the ideas here will prove useful.
On Fri, 23 Dec 1994, Pino DiMascio wrote:
On December 23, Joseph Roberts wrote: [DELETED] I disagree completely with this statement. Let us not fall into the trap of approaching topics such as race and ethnicity as naturally occurring categories. They are always, I repeat always, socially constructed. Joseph notes that race refers to genetic makeup. But we do not have racial categories based on all the different genetic characteristics of humans. The fact that skin colour and not height or nose length have been used to classify 'races' are a result of social choices. There is nothing natural about races. Furthermore, I'm not sure how Joseph comes to the conclusion that ethnicity can be naturally defined. Are political borders and religious beliefs a natural trait?
In the broadest sense this is true. Humans have determined what race or ethnicity means and in this sense race and ethnicity are social constructs in and of themselves. However, that is not my point. I have presented the standard definitions used by cultural anthropologists, political scientists, cultural geographers, ... ad nauseum. My point is that the definitions are standard and the APPLICATION of the definitions are not subject to social constructs.
Individuals claim to be from a certain patch of ground. The Kurds are tied to a particular patchwork of territory in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. This is there ethnic homeland. The Kharajites claim a particular section of S. Iraq as an ethnic homeland and use a common "denomination" of Islam to identify themselves. This is how these individuals describe themselves. This is their ethnicity and it is not subject to my interpretation or my social constructs.
Joseph W. Roberts
Department of Political Science
University of Utah
252 Orson Spencer Hall
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Phone: (801) 581 - 4262
Fax: (801) 581 - 6183
I'd add one more category into the list. I think people often overlook physical characteristics as very important segment in our society. This physical characterisitcs can be anything that causes one person to look in certain way. As a blind person, I think the society often prejudges me on my characteristics of being blind, not the content of my true behavior.
It might help the discussion on the problem of defining minorities to focus on the foloowing:
Accepted UN definition of minority. Minority is a "group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of the State, in a nondominant position, whose members--being nationals of the State--possess ethnic, religious or linguistic characterisitics differing from those of the rest of the population and show, if only implicitly, a sense of solidarity, directed towards preserving their culture, traditions, religion or language."
Refinement of definition of minority: "A group of citizens of a state, constituting a numerical minority and in a nondominant position in that State, endowed with ethnic, religious or linguistic chacteristics which differ from those of the majority of the population, having a sense of solidarity with oneanother, motivated, if only implicitly, by collective will to survive and whose aim is to achieve equality with the majority in fact and in law."
Thornberry (International Law and the Rights of Minorities) sees little diffrence between the two, opting for the first. He predicts that "it is doubtful if any international instrument will depart greatly from this line of approach."
Better approach to the problem, e.g., "disadvantaged groups"?
Thomas W. Simon, Professor
Miyazaki International College
1405 Kano, Kiyotake-cho
Miyazaki 889-16 Japan
I agree with Hune that the term 'minority' is (of course) a social construct, like almost all other societal categories. However, many, but not all constructs are created by dominant majorities. This is especially true with regard to what I have termed 'homeland ethnic groups' which usually seek to protect their identity regardless of majority's intention. Quite often, they 'define themselves' and see their enhanced ethnicity as an instrument to achieve greater political power. So I think a defition should recognise the social construct of the term 'minority' but not limit it to domination situations only.
Negev Centre for Regional Development
Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva 84105
Tel: 972-7-472002 (011)
In message <Pine.ULT.3.90a.950111100459.26830Femail@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> I agree with Hune that the term 'minority' is (of course) a social
The term we use around here is "ethnic communities"
Europe poses a few issues too - "migrants" are on the agenda, but the the various ethnic communities permanently resident within the various European member states seem to be less so. Given the increasing importance of European funding for Non-Governmental organisations such as ourselves, this is something that needs to be tackled.
Training & Development Officer
Greater Manchester Bangladesh Association
Being a newcomer on this network, I do not quite understand how to get into this thing but this is a try. We at PIOOM (=Interdisciplinary Research Program on Root Causes of Human Rights Violations, a NGO with consultative status with ECOSOC) have developed standard definitions in an effort to uniformize human rights terminology. Our definitions are sometimes more original (e.g. Terrorism = peacetime equivalent of war crimes), sometimes less, simply a composite of existing definitions. for whatever it is worth, I give you into consideration our definition of MINORITY GROUP = A group typically numerically inferior to the rest ofthe population of a state, in a non-dominant position, whose members - being nationals of the state - possess ethnic, religious, or linguistic characteristics distinguishing them from the rest ofthe population. Typically, members of a minority group share a sense of solidarity and a desire to preserve their culture, traditions, religion, or language. A minoirty group can sometimes be a numerical majority in a minority group position. Minority group status is not a matter of numbers; it is determined by the presence of distinguishing features such as discrimination. Central features characterizing a minority group are:
1. The members of a minority group suffer various disadvantages at the hand of another group;[Source, A.J. Jongman & A.P. Schmid. Monitoring Human Rights. Manual for Assessing Country Performance. Leiden, LISWO, 1994. 350 pp. + software, p.257 (from Part III:Glossary, which defines some 750 terms).]
2. A minority group is identified by group characteristics that are socially visible;
3. A minority is a self-conscious group with a strong sense of "oneness";
4. People usually do not become members of a minority group voluntarily; they are born into it;
5. By choice or necessity, members of a minority group tend to marry within the group."
Any comments, criticism on our definition are welcome. Alex P. Schmid, Research Director PIOOM, Leiden University, The Netherlands. (e-mail:IN%"schid@rulfsw.Leidenuniv.NE" composite of existing
On Wed, 11 Jan 1995 PIOOM@rulfsw.fsw.LeidenUniv.nl wrote:
features such as discrimination. Central features characterizing a minority group are: 1. The members of a minority group suffer various disadvantages at the hand of another group;Women? Don't always identify even as having a common agenda, but are discriminated against as a group.
2. A minority group is identified by group characteristics that are socially visible;
3. A minority is a self-conscious group with a strong sense of "oneness";
4. People usually do not become members of a minority group voluntarily; they are born into it;Members of religions? Judaism accepts converts. So do Seventh-Day Adventists, etc.
5. By choice or necessity, members of a minority group tend to marry within the group."Just a few possible crits. from a new lurker.
[Source, A.J. Jongman & A.P. Schmid. Monitoring Human Rights. Manual for Assessing Country Performance. Leiden, LISWO, 1994. 350 pp. + software, p.257 (from Part III:Glossary, which defines some 750 terms).]
Any comments, criticism on our definition are welcome.
I have been following the discussion in this mailing list since the beginning and feel somewhat disturbed it concentrated exclusively on the definition which is rather a marginal aspect of the problem of racial, religious and ethnic violence.
In particular situations and for specific purposes, e.g. positive action aimed to alleviate the position of certain discriminated groups, it seems fair to equate minority status with discrimination and regard the dominating groups as majorities. Such approach is quite valid from the human rights perspective or the situation in the developed Western and some other countries (Japan, Thailand, most of the Arab nations, Israel).
However, historically and probably in most of the developing countries it does not make sense to equate domination/subjugation with majority/minority cleavage. During the colonial period population of the imperial powers neither collectively nor separately could be regarded as majority within the colonial system, and their members in particular colonies (e.g. the British in India) often constituted less than 1 per cent of the total population. The Indians, Ceylonese or the modern Indonesians never perceived themselves as minorities and drew much of their inspiration from their numerical majority.
In many Asian and African countries where the population is highly segmented into religious, ethnic and numerous subethnic groups it is often impossible to determine which groups are dominant and which are disadvantaged. An Indian Muslim is likely to regard Hindus as the dominant majority but the vast majority of the Hindus (low-caste especially scheduled caste) definitely belong to the disadvantaged group category.
Besides, there is a methodological problem as socio-economic, political and cultural dimensions of ethnic stratification generally overlap but do not coincide completely to form a unilinear hyerarchy. In India and the (former) Soviet Union I have observed many cases where each group regards itself as disadvantaged and opposes the other, allegedly dominant group. A good example is the Sikh community, the most affluent group after Parsees and Marwaris, who regard themselves as discriminated minority and in early 80s have compiled a long list of the "Sikh grievances". In the non-Russian post-Soviet states the loss of the earlier privileged status is perceived by many Russians as discrimination, and the Yeltsin administration has on several occasions proclaimed to use "all existing means in order to uphold the honor and dignity" (whatever it may mean legally) of the "compatriots" outside Russia.
The concept of minorities as disadvantaged groups is valid in many countries and there is no sense to argue about its usage. However, the exceptions are too numerous to be ignored in any theoretical debate. Minorities are social constructs, hence the term can be applied to any group which perceives itself and/or is perceived by other groups, as minority. Its disadvantaged or dominant status in such case is a matter of qualification or analysis within the wider context of existing social, political and other forms of stratification.
Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow
In view of the fact that there has been considerable discussion on the definition of 'minorities', I wonder if there is still a place for another submission.
I am sorry to say that I have no original definition of minorities but I thought it would be useful to review how some other authorities have defined minority/ies before I raise a new topic for discussion, viz. LEGAL RECOGNITION OF ETHNIC MINORITY RELIGIOUS CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS IN WESTERN STATES.
[By ethnic/minority religious customs and traditions I mean non-Christian customs and tradition, e.g., the Islamic and Khalsa Sikh. (2) By Western states i mean the former West European imperial states, e.g., Britain, France etc. and their former "white" colonies, e.g., the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc.]
See note # below 12 for further discussion.
The word 'minorities', like many other popular words in current usage lacks precision. Minorities come in various shapes and forms. There are 'world minorities' (groups of people sharing a common culture but spread across many national boundaries, e.g., the Kurds); 'national minorities' (i.e., groups native to a nation-state perceived to be suffering from discrimination, e.g., the Ainu of Japan); 'visible minorities' (a term currently in use in some Western countries, referring specifically to group/s of recent immigrants and their descendants from the 3A's (Asia, Africa and Arabia) who are generally dark-skinned but not necessarily so); 'religious minorities' (e.g., the Jews); 'ethnic minorities' (e.g., the Irish and the Welsh); 'racial minorities' (e.g., the blacks, Afro-Americans or the Negroes in North America); 'the aboriginal minorities' of ANZ; 'the Natives' of Canada; 'the Scheduled castes and tribes' of India; 'designated minorities' (those who have suffered from past injustices), etc., etc.
In addition to the racial, religious, ethnic or cultural minorities we have gender minorities (e.g., women, who are numerically equal or superior to the opposite sex but generally included in most discussions on minorities); minorities defined or designated by sexual orientation (e.g., the gays, lesbians, bisexuals, etc.); eunuchs; disabled or physically challenged minorities.
1. "Despite the many references to minorities to be found in international legal instruments of all kinds (multilateral conventions, bilateral treaties and resolutions of international organizations)", says Francesco Capotorti, Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, "there is no generally accepted definition of the term "minority" (_Study on the Rights of Persons belonging to Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities_ (NY: United Nations, 1991, para 20, p. 5).
2. However, the term 'minority' has become a common usage in many a circle, especially in human rights, equal opportunity etc. There is even an organization named "Minority Rights Group" based in London (UK) which has published a number of reports on various minorities of the world (see items 13.ii and 13.xi).
3. But what is a minority? _Black's Law Dictionary_ (1983) defines the term 'minority' as 'The state or condition of a minor, infancy. Opposite of 'majority' (p. 516). However, this is *not* what we mean when we talk or hear about 'visible minorities', 'certified minorities', 'designated minorities' or disadvantaged groups.
Another dictionary defines 'minority' as "a group differing, esp. in race, religion or ethnic background, from the majority of a population, esp. when the difference is obvious and causes or is likely to cause members to be treated unfairly" _The Random House Dictionary of the English Language_ NY: Random House, 1967, p. 913).
The word 'minorite', we are told in the same source, comes from Latin *fraires minores* literally "inferior brothers, a name emphasizing their humility" (cf. Friar Minor).
Thus the term 'minority' can have a pejorative meaning for some; a term that shows a disparaging value, e.g., in the phrases 'minority shareholders', 'minority of votes' (indicative of powerlessness).
4. "Because the civil rights movement of the 1960s was such a dramatic period for this country", write Donna E. Thompson and Nancy DiTomasco, "the term _minority_ has often been used synonymously since then for black" (_Ensuring Minority Success in Corporate Management_ (NY: Plenum Press, 1988, p. 7).
5. Thus, the use of the generic term 'black' for all dark-skinned people is not without its problems. South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangla Deshis and Sri Lankans etc.) living in Britain don't like being called 'black'. So, they are sometimes referred to as 'Brown Brits" or 'British Asians', terms which some groups, e.g., the Sikhs and Muslims, do not like either.
6. There is thus little unanimity in defining the term 'minority' or related terms. Prof. Hurst Hannum, Associate Professor of International Law, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, says:
"... no proposed definition of 'minority' has yet been widely accepted by international lawyers, but a common-sense definition of a numerically smaller, nondominant group distinguished by shared ethnic, racial, religious, or linguistic attributes will suffice for present purposes"("Contemporary developments in the International protection of the rights of minorities", _Notre Dame Law Review_, vol. 66 (1981), p. 1431. See also the author's _Basic documents on Autonomy and Minority Rights_ (1992).
7. In his 'Introduction' to the _Papers of the Ljubljana Seminar_ Albert Verdoodt defines ethnic and linguistic minorities as:
"groups that are nondominant in their country and that, while wishing in general for equality of treatment with the majority, also wish for a measure of differential treatment in order to preserve the basic ethnic and linguistic characteristics which they possess and which distinguish them from the majority of the population."
('Introduction: Ethnic Minorities and the United Nations' IN _The Multinational Society: Papers of the Ljubljana Seminar_ edited by William F. Mackey and Albert Verdoodt. Newbury House Publishers, 1975, p. 2).
8. In UNDoc.E/CN.4/Sub.2/384 and Add. 1-7 (Aug. 1977) the Rapporteur presented the following definition of the term 'minority':
> "a group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a State, in a non-dominant position, whose members--being nationals of the State--possess ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of the population and show, if only implicitly, a sense of solidarity, directed towards preserving their culture, tradition, religion or language."
9. In his _Study on the Rights of Persons belonging to Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities_ (New York: United Nations, 1991), Francesco Capotorti says:
"for the purpose of this study, an ethnic, religious or linguistic minority is a group numerically smaller than the rest of the population of the State to which it belongs and possessing cultural, physical or historical characteristics, a religion or a language different from those of the rest of the population" (U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/384/Rev. 1, U.N. (1979), repr. (1991) Sales No. E.91.XIV.2, p.7).
10. In his article "The Cultural Rights of People", _Universal Human Rights_ vol. 2, No. 2, June 1980, Vernon van Dyke writes:
"Although wanting to focus on the alleged rights of _peoples_, I have already been obliged to speak of minorities. I adopt Capotorti's definition of the word _minority_, making it designate "a group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a state ...". But he adds, "A people may or may not be a minority" (p.2).
11. In India, which has a large number of ethnic, religious, racial, and linguistic minorities (in addition to the caste minorities), the term 'minorities' is replaced by the phrase 'scheduled castes'.
See generally R. C. Hingorani, "Minorities in India and their rights," _Revue des droits de l'homme_, vol. 2 (1972). (I do not have the page numbers).
i) See sections on 'Ethnic Minorities: World Guide; 'Minorities'; and 'Minority Rights' IN _Encyclopedia of Human Rights_ ed. by Edward Lawson. NY: Taylor and Francis, 1991.
ii) Thornberry, Patrick. _Minorities and the Human Rights Law_ London: Minority Rights Group, 1991. (First published 1987).
iii) Thornberry, Patrick. _The Rights of Ethnic Minorities in International Law_ Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990. Also titled: International Law and the Rights of Minorities.
iv) Claude, I. _National Minorities: an international problem_ Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Univ. Press, 1955.
v) Macartney, C.A. _National States and National Minorities_ NY: Russell & Russell, 1968.
vi) Kushner, Tony and Kenneth Lunn (eds). _The Politics of marginality: Race, the Radical Right and Minorities in twentieth Century Britain. London: Frank Cass, 1990.
vii) Palley, Claire. Constitutional law and Minorities. London: Minority Rights Group, 1978.
viii) Sampat-Mehta, R. _Minority Rights and Obligations_. [Gardenvale, P.Q., Canada]: Harpell's Press, 1973.
ix) Sigler, J. (ed.) _Minority rights: a Comparative Analysis_ Westport: Greenwood Press, 1983.
x) Watson, Michael (ed). _Contemporary Minority Nationalism_ (no date).
xi) _World Directory of Minorities_. Editor: Minority Rights Group (Alan Phillips). London: 1993.
xii) Churchill, Stacy. _Education of Linguistic & Cultural Minorities in OECD Countries_. Multicultural Matters, 1990.
xiii) _International Protection of Minorities_. Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1986.
12. But most important of all documents is *The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights*. Its Article 27, which forms the basis of any discussion on minority rights, states:
"In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language" (G.A. Res. 2200, 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 56, U.N.Doc. A/6316, (1966)).
The above passage does not state "to profess and practice their own religion..." *in public*. It may, therefore, be read to mean 'freedom of belief and worship (in private?)' rather than the state being asked to grant judicial recognition to the profession and practice of minority religions in public.
Cf., for example, the response of the French Government on the issue of 'Recognition in internal law of the right of ethnic and linguistic minorities to maintain and preserve their own characteristics'...
[France] cannot guarantee the existence of ethnic groups, whether minorities or not. As regards religions and languages-- other than national language--the French Government points out that these two areas form part, not of public law, but of the private exercise of public freedoms of citizens...' (Cited in Capotorti, 1991:13: supra note # 9).
Thus the French Government's action against the wearing of the *hijab* by some Muslim girls should not come as a surprise. The French would probably take a similar stand against the wearing of turbans and daggers (kirpans) in public institutions.
However, the religious and cultural rights (needs) of ethnic and religious minorities is viewed differently in some *Newly Developing Multicultural Countries* (e.g., The U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.). They have accorded legal recognition to some minority religious customs and traditions (apparently based on a liberal reading of the UNDHR).
The issue(s) of legal recognition of 'ethnic' minority religious customs and traditions has created many a cultural conflict in some *NEWLY DEVELOPING MULTIRACIAL/MULTIRELIGIOUS STATES* (by which I mean old imperial states (e.g., the U.K. and France) and their
For a detailed discussion on the subject see Sebastian Poulter's _English Law and Ethnic Minority Customs_ (Butterworths, 1986) and some of his other publications. Incidentally, Poulter defines a 'minority' as People "recognisably distinct in terms of its shared historical experiences and its adherence to a certain significant 'cultural' traditions and traits which are different from those of the majority of the population" (p. 2).
[Note: Some people may take an issue with my term *NEWLY DEVELOPING MULTIRACIAL/MULTICULTURAL STATES*. They may argue that states such as mentioned above have been 'multicultural' in times past. Yes, but they were not legally defined as 'multicultural' states then (say, as Canada is now). It is the current wave of immigration from non-European sources which is giving them this new-found status. There is now more diversity, especially of race and religion, than there was before; hence the term 'newly developing multicultural states'.]
What I would like to see discussed is how Newly Developing Multicultural Countries like Britain, Canada, France, the Netherlands etc. are according legal recognition to ethnic/minority customs and traditions, whether they be 'hijab', kirpan (daggers), uncut hair, or turbans etc.?
Such a query may fall under the subject 'Legal Pluralism'.