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Identity Politics in the Educational System in South Tyrol: Balancing between Minority Protection and the Need to Manage Diversity


  • Verena Wisthaler

    1. European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano (EURAC)
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    • Verena Wisthaler is a Junior Research at the Institute for Minority Rights at the European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano (EURAC) and a Ph.D. student in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Leicester. Her research interests focus on the relationship between national minorities and diversity stemming from migration from the point of view of identity change and political parties. She is also interested in various systems of minority protection and in particular minority education.


This article focuses on the educational system in South Tyrol as one of the pillars of language and identity politics used for minority protection and elaborates on possible future developments triggered by immigration. After a historical overview of the coexistence of the three linguistic groups in South Tyrol, the article will explore, from the perspective of the educational system, the institutional framework guaranteeing the protection of the German-speaking and Ladin minority and in particular their languages as the most important markers of the particular local identities. The article then examines how the educational system in South Tyrol deals with increasing immigration, assessing the strengths and weaknesses in relation to whether the educational system facilitates, on the one hand, the development of a multilingual society and, on the other, individual language competences and thus individual multilingualism.