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The invention of a diaspora: the case of Arbëresh

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Albanian diaspora in Italy

A look at Albanian migration in Italy sheds light on officially recognised minorities and the regulations surrounding ethnic groups in the EU today.

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The Arberesh minority, part of Albanian migration into Italy beginning in the 15th century, is one of the officially recognised minorities in the EU. What began as a result of the Turkish conquest of Albania ultimately resulted in a union with the Catholic Church in Italy. Thus, the colonies formed their own language and culture. Diasporas have been viewed as way to rebuild a dispersed original identity. The EU-funded ALBANIAN DIASPORA (The invention of a diaspora: The case of Arbëresh) project analysed the case of Albanian migrants in Italy. In so doing, the research was expanded to include the formation of another minority in Italy also recognised by the EU. Known as Grecanici, they have settled in the outer part of Italy and only a few can speak the dialect. The work has scientific and societal impact. Results show that regulations for recognising ethnic groups as minorities need to be rethought. This includes focusing on strengthening the linguistic criterion in order to recognise national minorities. Additionally, the research could enable Italy and other EU national states with the means to explore the problems of ethnic groups. Potential impact includes rethinking diaspora and the historical relationship between western and Eastern Europe. Project findings will also help to reflect on the mixed identity of territories and show how groups create official recognised minorities. In turn, this will help provide the EU and nation states with new tools to explore ethnic minorities.


Albanian diaspora, Albanian migration, Italy, ethnic groups, Arberesh

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