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Connecticut College professor edits new encyclopedia of European ethnic groups

Jeffrey Cole, professor of anthropology at Connecticut College, has edited a new encyclopedia, "Ethnic Groups of Europe." Cole, an expert on migration, race and ethnicity in Europe, worked with more than 80 scholars from throughout the world to create this comprehensive encyclopedia of more than 100 European ethnic groups. The work is part of ABC-CLIO's five-part series about ethnic groups around the world, Ethnicity in Global Focus. Each entry provides an overview of a particular ethnic group and the group's origins, early history, cultural life and recent developments, and together they reveal the dynamic process of ethnic identity and the relationship of ethnic groups to modern states.

"Most of us think of ethnic groups as stable in their features and, barring some disaster, enduring," Cole said. "Some groups certainly endure, but all undergo change through processes such as merging with neighborhood groups, internal division, migration, the introduction of new religions and languages and changing political constellations." Cole added that the volume also makes clear the power of the central government to shape the conditions for the existence of ethnic groups.

For example, he said, "Anti-discrimination laws and norms protecting minority languages make today's political climate much more favorable to ethnic groups than, say, the period of 1850-1950, in which many national governments sought to suppress ethnic diversity in the name of nation building." The encyclopedia, which is available in print and online, is intended to serve high school and college students as well as the general public.

September 26, 2011