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Separatism is a term usually applied to describe the attitudes or motivations of those seeking independence or "separation" of their land or region from the country that governs them. To a lesser extent, separatism may also refer to social isolation or involvement in cliques. The term separatist movements usually refers to social movements that aspire to autonomy for a particular group of people from a dominant political institution under which they suffer, although separatism can also be enforced by a ruling political power, as occurred in South Africa under apartheid. The grounds for separation can be regional, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious, or gender — or a combination of these factors.


[edit] Political and administrative separatism

Political separatism may involve attempts to obtain sovereignty and to split a territory or a group of people (usually a people with a distinctive national consciousness) from one another, or one nation from another. One type of example involves colonies gaining independence from a metropolis. Separatist groups themselves often reject the term separatism: they may consider it pejorative, and prefer more neutral terms such as self-determination.

Separatist movements often operate using strictly constitutional and peaceful methods. The province of Quebec in Canada has, with the exception of the October Crisis of 1970, fostered a mostly peaceful separatist movement since roughly 1960. Broadly peaceful movements ended in the break-up of Czechoslovakia and of the Soviet Union. Singapore also peacefully seceded from the Malaysian Federation. The formation of the Confederate States of America in 1861 occasioned major warfare only after a series of arguably constitutional and orderly secessions.

Separatism can also often take the form of a violent response to a past military takeover. Around the world many groups espouse separatism as the "only" way to achieve their goal of national liberation. These include the Basque ETA in France and Spain, Sikh separatists in India during the 1980s, the IRA in Ireland since the 1910s, and the Front de Libération du Québec in the 1960s, culminating in the October Crisis in 1970. These guerrilla campaigns can also lead to full-blown civil wars, as has happened in Chechnya.

Violence usually diminishes when there exist political means that would-be separatists can use to gain more political and economic autonomy within the current constitutional order. Free elections and referenda sometimes help to reduce tensions. Very few countries acknowledge their potential divisibility, however. The wars erupting with the break-up of Yugoslavia for instance, despite constitutional provisions in the former Yugoslavia that theoretically allowed referenda and division if all member states agreed.

[edit] Motivations for separatism

Separatist movements often have at least a superficial basis in nationalism or in religious fervour. More often than not, however, feelings of inadequate political clout and perceived economic (dis)advantage play an important role. Economics proved a factor in the break-up of Czechoslovakia; a principal cause involved Slovakia's reluctance to abandon state-run industries, the core of its economy. Bohemia and Moravia -- the areas of the future Czech Republic -- had a greater willingness to experiment with the idea of a free market, and thus the countries parted.

Quebec also provides an example of how political marginalisation can lead to separatist ambitions. Throughout the first century of Canadian Confederation from 1867, a small minority of Anglophone Montrealers dominated the province politically and economically. Rejection of this status quo led to the growth of Quebec-first separatist groups in the 1960s and 1970s.

Spain's Basque areas, which have not had independence for centuries, developed violent separatist groups in reaction to violent oppression by Francisco Franco's regime (furthermore, the Basque language, despite being minoritary, provides a basis for Basque nationalism, as in some other instances throughout the world). A similar pattern emerged in Ethiopia, where Eritrean rebels expressed from anger at despotism and corruption.

The nations of the northern Italian peninsula maintained political independence for centuries (for example Veneto had a separate identity from the 10th to 19th centuries as the Republic of Venice and the Republic of Genoa acted independently for the best part of seven centuries. The separatism of northern Italy has not only economic roots, but also linguistic (associated with the Gallo-romance language group) and cultural ones.

[edit] Degrees of separation

A wide spectrum of different intensities of separatist feeling and activity occurs in history:

  • Some separatist movements engage in armed struggle using conventional military forces. Many countries in the Americas gained their independence in this manner between (say) 1780 and circa 1830.
  • Many separatists, lacking pro tem the resources to fight openly, fall back on guerrilla tactics (and thus run the risk of their opponents dismissing them as terrorists). Basque separatism falls into this category; Algeria built up its independence in this manner; Chechen separatism has moved in this direction since the diminishing of open warfare in the Caucasus.
  • In cases where an occupying power has rigid control and overwhelming capabilities, separatist movements have little choice but to go "deep underground". Tsarist authorities in Poland in the 19th century, for example, generally gave little scope to Polish irredentists to bear arms and sometimes suppressed the use of their language and the practice of their cultural activities in public. But Polish separatism on "Russian" soil did not die, it merely waited for more favorable times.
  • Where permitted, separatism can advance its aims through constitutional means, particularly via parliamentary representation. Irish separatism took this form for much of the 19th century.
  • India provides the classic case of the use of passive resistance to advocate separatism and political independence. The methodology and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi proved important in this regard.
  • Separatism through cultural distinction can gnaw away at a super-national hegemony. Separatism in Cornwall has often operated in this manner, and it proved effective in the Baltic region prior to World War I.
  • Intellectually-based separatism has emerged in cases such as Cascadia. The idea of an independent Cascadia may or may not grow and take on some other intensity of separatist activity.
  • Temporary or intermittent dissatisfaction with a national or regional situation can provoke flickering feelings of separatism that rise and fall in popularity. The New England region of New South Wales provides a case in point.
  • The separatism of micronations can veer towards the non-serious. Areas such as the Hutt River Province or Sealand can declare independence and set up constitutions and institutions - issuing stamps, banknotes and passports - without necessarily greatly upsetting their metropolitan power or changing the balance in voting blocs at the United Nations. Such examples can serve as vehicles for political or economic protest without necessarily threatening existing nation-states. Jocular and short-lived entities such as the so-called Republic of Hawera come and go. In some cases separatism can almost become a farce - a far cry from the bloodshed that full-blown nationalism can occasion.

[edit] Fickle separatisms

Separatism can change in form, intensity and direction over time. Belgium fought a bloody war for nationhood in 1830. However, in the late twentieth century, Belgium became one of the vanguard countries in forming the multi-national European Union. Its capital Brussels became also the capital city of the European Union. But at the same time, Belgium itself split up in a federal state , with in the north, Flanders (dutch-speaking) and in the south,Wallonia (french-speaking). Texan separatism became very real in 1836 and faded with the area's annexation to the United States in 1845, but the Republic of Texas group(s) maintain the tradition of an independent Texas to this day. Indians before 1947 agitated for their own Raj, only to experience Islamic separatism in the formation of Pakistan, which in turn fell victim to Bengali separatism in the setting up of an independent Bangladesh. Romantic notions of the constant inherent burning desire for a single national homeland do not always reflect the course of events.

[edit] Countries dismembered by separatist movements c. 2006

[edit] Other Historical separatist movements

[edit] Entities which have proclaimed independence without gaining international recognition as independent countries

See also: List of unrecognized countries

[edit] States with separatist movements

See: List of active autonomist and secessionist movements

[edit] Ethnic/racial separatism

Main article: Racial separatism

Ethnic separatism refers to groups that attempt to separate themselves culturally and economically or racially, though not always seeking political autonomy.

[edit] White separatism

Main article: White separatism

White separatism is the belief that those who are of white or Caucasian race should have separate institutions or even separate societies, territories, governments, and should not intermarry or have children with those considered to be of non-white races. White separatists groups often label themselves "racialists" rather than racists.

[edit] Latino separatism

One of the currents of the 1960s Chicano Movement in the United States was politically separatist. Its proponents sought to recreate Aztlán, the mythical homeland of the Aztecs as a Chicano nation comprising the Southwestern United States. To further this aim, they drew on the Latin American concepts of racial identity such as the bronze race and La Raza Cósmica.

[edit] Black separatism

Main article: Black separatism

Black separatism is the belief the Black people should live separately from other races.

See also: Identity politics

[edit] Religious separatism

Religious groups whose members believe they should not interact with anyone except co-religionists tend to break into plethoras of sects. Religious separatism has become a particular feature of those Protestant churches in which ecclesiastical government and theological authority resides at the local, congregational level. Compare the religious landscape of 15th-century Europe with that of 21st-century North America. And see shunning as a potential tool of separation.

Those who advocate a strict separation of church and state often term themselves "separationists" (with "accommodationists" as the converse).

[edit] Gender and sexuality

Separatist feminism suggests that the political disparities between men and women cannot be readily resolved, and encourages women to direct their energies toward other women rather than men. A branch of separatist feminism known as lesbian separatism advocates lesbianism as the logical result of feminism. Not all separatist feminists advocate complete avoidance of men, but instead may refuse to participate in male-dominated institutions. Some advocate permanent separation, while others see it as a period necessary for personal growth. A number of small women-only communities with a separatist philosophy have emerged since the 1970s, sometimes allowing male children up to a certain age such as puberty. Depictions of women-only societies in fiction can be found throughout history, including stories of Amazons, or the 1915 utopian novel Herland.

Some contemporary queer and transgender writers and activists have critiqued gender as a form of separatism that artificially divides the human population into two classes.'''''''''''''''''

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

ca:Independentisme de:Separatismus es:Separatismo fr:Indépendantisme id:Separatisme ka:სეპარატიზმი lt:Separatizmas nl:Separatisme ja:分離主義 pl:Separatyzm pt:Separatismo ru:Сепаратизм fi:Separatismi sv:Separatism zh:分離主義


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