Ethno-racial identity (politics) by law: “Fraud” and “choice”

Ethno-racial identity (politics) by law: “Fraud” and “choice”

Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity
Published online: 2017-06-12
20 pages
DOI: 10.1080/00905992.2017.1311846

András L. Pap
Hungarian Academy of Sciences Center for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, Budapest, Hungary; Slovak Academy of Sciences, Institute of Sociology, Bratislava, Slovakia; Nationalism Studies Program, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary; Department for Law Enforcement Theory, National Public Service University, Faculty of Law Enforcement, Budapest, Hungary

Following an introduction to the changes in how ethno-racial identity is conceptualized in the social sciences and humanities by the destabilization of categorical frameworks, the author looks at how law reacts to these discussions and paradigm shifts, and argues that legal and administrative approaches face severe linguistic and conceptual limitations by operating within a “choice” and “fraud” binary. The article then questions if the free choice of identity exists as a principle of international minority protection law, a legal field that arguably represents a global political and ethical consensus. The author makes two claims. First, according to the basic tenet of legal logic, a proper right to free choice of identity allowing people to opt out of racial, ethnic, or national (minority) communities would necessitate the freedom to opt in to the majority or to any chosen group. The second claim, however, is that international law would not actually construct an approach to opting in. Thus, the right to free choice of identity is not an autonomous, sui generis right under international law.

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