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Atlas of Stateless Nations in Europe - Minority People in Search of Recognition
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About the Author

In 1999, Mikael Bodlore-Penlaez founded the internet site www.eurominority.eu devoted to stateless nations and minority people of Europe. He regularly collaborates to produce bodies of work and geographical charts on this subject. The creation of this atlas relied on the support of a team of specialists on the question of 'minorities' across Europe.

Reviews

An atlas of European minority nations has been needed for decades, and this is almost, but not quite, that book. As you would expect from Y Lolfa, it's accessible, colourful and well designed. It will be a useful reference for students and those active in the political and cultural life of small nations, as well as those developing an initial interest in these areas. It's also a treasury of unexpected facts and perspectives. Originally written in French and published in Brittany, it is not without flaws, although many could be removed in the second edition it much deserves. The translation into English is often stilted and occasionally incomprehensible, while the introductions to each new nation are blighted by straplines ranging from the trite to the dangerously glib: the Basques 'fighting for their rights', Corsica's 'turbulent story of a quest for freedom'. Perhaps the most cringe-worthy is that for Wales -- 'You said Llanfairpwyllgwyll' -- but the most bizarre must be Fryslan, inhabited by 'nostalgic people of the North Sea'. There is a delicate line between simplification and trivialisation, recognition and stereotyping, and incisive editing is called for. The great nation-states have done their utmost over centuries to standardise their subjects and codify their affiliations, to paint the map red or green, and delete or diminish all linguistic and cultural differences within their borders. It's vitally important that we surviving minorities do not fall into the same trap, airbrushing out the tricky bits or sweeping the broad brush of generalisation across areas we find problematic. It's disturbing, therefore, to read that the people of Ireland have 'one objective: unification' when we know that hundreds of thousands would fill the streets in protest against that outcome. Similarly, to describe that country's religion as 'Roman Catholic' is to ignore the enormous contribution to Irish history made by both Episcopal and Nonconformist Protestants. To describe Moravia as a 'national minority' while ignoring the cultural uniqueness of Bohemia is insensitive, and many inhabitants of Valencia will be outraged to read that they are part of the 'Catalan nation'. When the second edition comes, I hope that space will be made for those most influential and persecuted Europeans of all, the Roma; and also that less emphasis is placed on flags and conflict, and more on culture, which is what really 'forges the identity of peoples'. How sad to read nothing of 'cynghanedd' or the 'bombard', 'bertzolariak' or even 'paella' in a book like this. It's a splendid achievement nevertheless, blazing a trail for the future. Even now -- warts and all -- it's an exciting and thought-provoking work and worth its place on many shelves. Meic Llewellyn It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council

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