Keywords: Linguistic Minorities; Southernisation; Southern Question; Colonialism; UNESCO; Calabria.
More than ever, ethnic and linguistic minorities turn to influential global actors such as UNESCO and the European Union to claim their right to distinctiveness. It has been argued that difference is realised on a global scale through a common set of formats and structures that mediate between cultures, and ultimately scale distinctiveness along a limited set of criteria. As a result, only some kinds of difference are promoted whilst others are discounted or tailored to fit pre-existing models. Drawing on ethnographic research among the Greek linguistic minority of Calabria (Grecanici), this paper argues for a theorisation of minority discourse as experiential colonialism desired by a variety of local and global actors. Grecanici are aware that they must maintain a particular projection of being exotic southerners with a history of peasantry, poverty and subordination to claim their difference through influential national and global political bodies, but these categories are also appropriated by numerous actors from outside the minority. I argue that the Southern Question(s) still has analytical potential and should be a tool for addressing wider issues of «southernisation» and colonisation.