Racial, Ethnic, or National Minority? Legal Discourses and Policy Frameworks on the Roma in Hungary and Beyond

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Racial, Ethnic, or National Minority? Legal Discourses and Policy Frameworks on the Roma in Hungary and Beyond


  • Andras L. Pap Department for the Study of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law, Centre for Social Sciences Institute for Legal Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary


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Abstract:  Inspired by recent Hungarian legislative developments that, in reference to the Roma minority, exchanged the term “ethnic minority” with “nationality”, by providing a detailed case study of the development and morphology of policy measures and frameworks in Hungary, the article provides a general assessment of the relationship between policy instruments and terminology: that is, definitions and conceptualizations in international and domestic legal and policy documents for minority groups. The author argues that while terminology in itself is not a reliable signifier for policy frameworks, it may reveal contradictory group conceptualization and inconsistent policy-making. In regards to the Roma, the author claims that the inconsistent labelling as an ethnic, racial and national minority reflects the lack of consistent conceptualization of who the Roma are, and what should be done with them.

Keywords:  ethnicity; Hungary; nation; Roma

Published:   29 September 2015


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v3i5.232


© Andras L. Pap. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.