Cottbus/Chóśebuz - 08.07.2022

Sorbian Institute inaugurates new research department for Regional Development and Minority Protection

The new interdisciplinary Department for Regional Development and Minority Protection started its work at the Sorbian Institute/Serbski institut on 1 July 2022.

The Department for Regional Development and Minority Protection will primarily focus on two areas: the revitalization of the Lower and Upper Sorbian languages and the valorization of the Sorbian culture in Lusatia, homeland of the Sorbian minority. The researchers will work closely with various stakeholders concerned with Sorbian issues in the regional planning and development in Lusatia following the federal decision to move away from coal mining industry after 150 years of operation. They will accompany the Sorbs during this transformation process and develop recommendations for action for political and civil society actors.

“Through an approach that is explicitly oriented toward practical application on the ground, the department methodologically focusses on the monitoring and evaluation of projects for the promotion of the Sorbian culture and language. This strengthens the Sorbian Institute’s mandate to provide evidence-based policy advice,” says Institute Director Hauke Bartels.

An important aspect of the new unit’s activity is comprehensive and international comparative research, especially in the areas of language planning/ revitalization and of sustainable development of rural regions that are home to various national and linguistic minorities. The Sorbian Institute wants to learn from the experiences abroad to assess the most successful practices, but also to contribute with its own investigations to comparative research on minority groups around the world.

The questions addressed by the new department concern Sorbian needs in the background of the economic structural changes to come in Lusatia in the next decade, which touch upon diverse aspects including regional planning and policy, economy and education. In order to fulfill those goals, the department wants to intensify the cooperation of the Sorbian Institute with universities and non-university research centers in the region, for example with the Brandenburg Technic University Cottbus-Senftenberg, and to network with further German and international partners.

The Department for Regional Development and Minority Protection will be based in Cottbus/Chóśebuz and will initially focus on Lower Lusatia and the revitalization of the Lower Sorbian language. An expansion of its focus to Upper Lusatia and to the strengthening of the Upper Sorbian language is planned in the coming years. The new department will be headed by Lutz Laschewski, who will be assisted by a dedicated, interdisciplinary team of initially seven researchers and other project staff.

The department is one of six Sorbian projects financed by the Land of Brandenburg from the funding program “Sorbian Language and Culture in Structural Change”.

The Sorbian Institute/Serbski institut is a non-university research center for the study of the language, history and culture of the Lusatian Sorbs in a comparative perspective. In addition, the Institute’s interdisciplinary research focuses on the current situation, the specifics and the comparison of other small languages and cultures in Europe.

Further information:

Sorbian Institute joined European Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity