Theme: The Concept of Minority, a Critical Appraisal
Type: Online Workshop
Institution: Department of Islamic Studies and Competence Centre for
African Research, University of St Gallen
The concept of ‘minority’ has been profusely used by academics from a
diverse variety of fields for a long time (e.g. Wirth, 1941;
Amrsfoort, 1978, Barzilai, 2010). Assumed as it was that the
establishment of a shared conceptual frame that could work across a
wide diversity of historical and social scenarios would grant
collectivities the possibility to claim a number of rights based on
their distinctiveness. Yet, the concept has undergone a series of
revisionist trends and been criticised in a number of ways; whether
for imposing a single way of thinking about diversity, and excluding
the possibility to think about sameness and difference in other ways,
for the lack of relatedness to the emic constructions of collective
identity that exist in many societies across the globe, or for its
restricted association to discrimination and the numerous
difficulties associated to its applicability (Wilkinson 2000;
In this workshop we aim at facilitating a conversation on the
usefulness of the concept of minority as well as on the strengths and
weaknesses presented by developing a frame that allows for the
comparative scrutiny of distinct collectivities based on cultural,
sexual, religious, ethnic or social differentiation. Rather than
intending to produce yet a newer definition of the term, the workshop
seeks to shed light on the specific obstacles and advantages that the
current conceptual frame poses in a number of case studies as we have
perceived them in our study of diverse African locales. Thence, we
seek to problematise and to open a conversation about the
meaningfulness of the minority concept by looking at it from a
diversity of contexts and disciplines, within the wide scope of
academic research focusing on African contexts.
With that idea in mind the workshop discusses a number of issues in
relation to the applicability of the concept of minority in the cases
- In what ways does the concept of minority illuminates and/or
obscures claims enunciated by the distinct group?
- In what ways does the concept of minority is understood as to be
‘neutral’ and/or politically charged?
- In which ways the concept of minority promotes or hinders
particular aspects in the study of social, sexual, cultural,
religious or ethnic difference?
- In what regards does the concept of minority provide an adequate
analytical frame to understand enunciations of sameness and of
difference? And are there alternatives in place?
- What strengths and weaknesses can be identified in the use of the
minority concept as a representational and analytical medium?
- Fatoumata Keïta, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature,
Université des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines of Bamako.
- Silvia Gagliardi, Research Fellow at the Sutherland School of Law,
University College Dublin.
- Asebe Regassa, Senior Research Fellow in Political Geography,
University of Zürich and Associate Professor in Indigenous Studies
at Dilla University.
- Florian Elliker, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of St
- Moza Jadeed, Lecturer in Law, School of Law, University of Nairobi
- Kebene Wodajo, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Business
Ethics, University of St Gallen.
- Marta Domínguez Díaz, Senior Lecturer in Islamic Studies,
University of St Gallen.
To join the workshop please use the below zoom link:
Time: Jun 7, 2021 – 15:00-17:10 (Central European Time)
Meeting ID: 864 9577 7480
Marta Domínguez Díaz
Department of Islamic Studies, University of St Gallen
St Gallen, Switzerland