Borders and national minorities are closely linked. National minorities in Europe exist as the result of the drawing of the borders of the nation states. Despite the nation-state idea of an exclusive and unambiguous territory, the perfect border remains an illusion. Most border regions in Europe are characterised by national, cultural and linguistic diversity.
In the Danish-German border region, national minorities live on both sides of the border. During the European national awakenings in the nineteenth century, inhabitants of the historical Schleswig region had to make a choice between belonging to either the Danish or the German nation. In history, Schleswig has been a border zone between what evolved into the present Denmark and Germany. A clear division occurred only in 1920, when the present border was drawn after a plebiscite. Making matters even more complicated, a North Frisian minority has lived for centuries on the west coast of Schleswig.
The Centre for Border Region Studies (CBRS) studies national minorities in the Danish-German border region and in other European border regions. We seek to place minority experiences in wider contexts and examine minority experiences in relation to society at large. Our foci include dimensions of regionalism and nationalism as well as Europeanisation and globalisation. Studying minorities, we focus equally on institutional and political developments as well as cultural and social ones, such as shifting values and identities.