This paper combines anthropological and other critical security studies with research on cultural work to better understand the impact cultural institutions may have on the (de)securitisation of minority groups. Today minority issues represent a recurrent theme in various national and European contexts. Often perceived as a threat to social cohesion and linked to multiple successive crises, minorities and migrants have been the focus of security measures at different times. This paper focuses on the EU-funded project ‘Agents of Change: Mediating Minorities’ and explores how cultural work aimed at diversity and inclusion interacts with the dynamics of securitisation. Zooming in and out between the project goals and definitions, mundane local practices, institutional work and the broader (trans)national contexts, this paper discusses its intervening effects while also acknowledging numerous contradictions that make any straightforward narrative of minority desecuritisation difficult. With the help of empirical examples, this paper demonstrates a way to widen research beyond typical securitising and securitised actors and it contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the contexts of securitisation. Although the countermoves initiated by cultural work are never guaranteed to succeed, studying them opens new pathways to reflect upon the ambiguity of (de)securitisation as an open-ended process involving different actors, power relations and operating at multiple interdependent scales. These countermoves also indicate the shifts taking place in the current ways of thinking about and approaching minorities, challenging dominant constructions driving securitisation.
In the past decades multiple successive crises of public order, national identity, health and global relations have clearly skewed the uneasy balance between two competing discourses about justice and security. Despite efforts to create a more fair and inclusive society, a focus on threats from a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural composition of states has become prevalent in everyday discourses. This perspective influences social relations, urban development and state institutions, constantly conflating new securitised needs and concerns. But more than anything else this affects n