Redrawing identity boundaries through integration policies: strategies of inclusion / exclusion of immigrants in Québec and South Tyrol
Following the research agenda introduced by Will Kymlicka, this qualitative study offers an interpretation of how the sub-national elites of Québec and South Tyrol police the integration of immigrants. For these national minority groups, which are constantly undergoing a process of redefinition of their collective identities by differentiating themselves from the Others who do not belong to the in-group, immigrants have progressively become the most significant Others as they are not part of the original system of compromises. This article questions how sub-national elites are handling this relatively new kind of ethnocultural diversity brought about by large-scale permanent immigration on two levels: first, the political narrative of the ruling sub-national parties, their electoral appeals, manifestos and speeches; second, the policy arrangements for the integration of immigrants in education, language and social policy. The initial approach of the article is pessimistic, as it assumes that sub-national elites will marginalize immigrants to please core nationalist supporters. In fact, the hypotheses to be tested are whether the national minority groups of Québec and South Tyrol engage in a process of reconstruction of their ethnic identity bounded by opposition to real or imagined Others – the newcomers; and whether they adopt practical measures that force newcomers to be assimilated into the group or to be marginalized. The comparison between Québec and South Tyrol provides a basic understanding of the impact of immigration in two sub-national polities that are very different, but still adopt similar political narratives and policy strategies with regard to the integration of newcomers.