LIMINAL

Linguistic Minorities In The Alps
Etnicity, Languages And Demographic Processes

Funding source: University of Turin/Compagnia di San Paolo – Bando “Progetti di ricerca di Ateneo 2012”

The Alps are a large intercultural laboratory in which different processes and forms of living and relating to local environmental contexts are being experimented. In the entire European mountain area changes of various types are taking place: social, in terms of resident population, economic and cultural. Inhabitants of mountains, and of the Alps in particular, are undergoing a renovation process: by whom are linguistic minority groups dwelling in upper valley communities in Italy made up of nowadays? What about the rest of European Alpine valleys? Which influences were and are displayed by demographic changes and territorial mobility on keeping up the cultural elements (including language) of minority groups in the Alpine area, particularly those living in communities of the upper part of valleys?

To the scopes of the research, the intention is to investigate, in an anthropologic perspective, the various definitions of minority and of minority language used in legislation by the Alpine region States; to compare demographic and linguistic data in order to verify which impact socio-cultural transformations have had and have on the vitality of local languages; to identify, in the start-up, a community undergoing demographic growth with a significant number of new entries in the last years and a community suffering marked decline, in order to verify the influence displayed by demographic change and territorial mobility on the upkeep of cultural elements. In order to achieve this, the ethnographic methodology will be used, which requires long and immersive periods of field research; to evaluate who, among the actors involved, promotes valorization of the so-called “traditions”: if demographic changes lead to a drastic reduction of autochthonous speakers, this does not necessarily mean that a sense of “ethnic” belonging will not survive; investigate the political dimension of linguistic identity as opposed to the dominant language/system.

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