This article offers an Introduction to the Special Issue. It presents the arguments why a political anthropological perspective can be particularly helpful to understand the connected political and cultural challenges and opportunities posed by the situation of ethnic and religious minorities. The paper shortly introduces the major anthropological concepts used, including liminality, trickster, imitation and schismogenesis; concepts that are used together with approaches of historical sociology and genealogy, especially concerning the rise and fall of empires, and their lasting impact. The suggested conceptual framework is particularly helpful for understanding how marginal places can become liminal, appearing suddenly at the center of political attention. The papers also show the manner in which minority existence can problematize the depersonalizing tendencies of modern globalization.