History and Government Faculty Presentations

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Event Date



Northeastern Political Science Association Conference


Boston, MA


This paper seeks to add greater definitional rigor to categorizing the mechanisms through which separatist regions become independent. In the literature, some sporadic delineation is used; however, it is not uniform nor are the definitions widely agreed upon. It is, therefore, important to categorize different ways in which new states effectively add to the Westphalian map. Six distinct mechanisms of independence emerged in this study which were then divided into four groups. Each group helps to explain how a state breakups up and under what conditions. Decolonization, irredentism, dissolution and secession are the four major groupings of national independence found in this work which help to define and categorize separatist movements. The latter two can also be delineated further to include: removal of a territory from a state (dissolution) and secession with the assistance of the international community (secession). This finding may have implications for academicians and policymakers seeking to resolve ongoing conflicts and contentions amongst regions vying for national independence worldwide. Since the number of viable separatist movements remains, this work helps to better understand the trajectory of a given contestation and how said contestation may be resolved if independence is presented as a viable option.


Decolonization, irredentism, dissolution, secession



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