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Partisans of Nation-States: Comparing the Role of Minority Identities in New Zealand and Finland

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Cultural diversity and the decentralisation of cultural self-determination are principal aims in the cultural strategies of modern western countries. However, there is no general agreement as to which groups should be granted such autonomy, or about who should be regarded as the authentic spokesmen for their groups. This article asks how two smallish but developed countries, Finland and New Zealand have historically arranged the status of their cultural minorities. The comparison is based on the cultural differences between these two countries, which have similar views on political rights and share a similar dependence on a limited number of economic sources. The chief guides of my reasoning have been Michael Volkerling's notion of cultural policies as ‘difference-engines' and Alessandro Pizzorno's conception of ‘partisan identities'. The analysis showed that the State has, in both cases, actively interfered with the construction of sub-identities. This was done by carefully creating the channels of negotiation, and specifying the individuals actually involved in the negotiations about minority rights. These ‘appropriate national sub-identities' have ensured a stability for the state, but have simultaneously led to enormous social concentrations of power within and between the groups themselves.
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Keywords: Cultural minorities; cultural difference-engine; identity giving; partisan identity; political decentralisation; self-determination

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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