Comparing Separatism across Regions

Benjamin Smith

in Comparative Area Studies

Published in print March 2018 | ISBN: 9780190846374
Published online May 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780190869595 | DOI:
Comparing Separatism across Regions

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  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations


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This chapter outlines the rationales for studying separatist conflicts across multiple regions through comparative area studies (CAS). It examines why some ethnic minorities are able to sustain broad challenges to their governments while others fail. Post-imperial ethnic region partitions, while relatively uncommon, are central to this question and demand an inquiry of cross-regional scope. Beginning with the division of interwar Kurdistan into parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, the author extends the theoretical framework to similar border creations in Balochistan (Southwest Asia) and the Tuareg region (North Africa). The comparisons of four Kurdish minorities, of the Kurdish groups to three groups in Balochistan and five Tuareg regions, and of Kurdish nationalism with that of Aceh, speak to the methodological benefits of CAS. The historical depth and spatial breadth of CAS allows for simultaneous context-sensitive comparisons of groups and regions, while generating fresh insights into variations in the level of separatist mobilization.

Keywords: Balochistan; comparative historical analysis; Kurdistan; partition; secession; separatism; Tuareg

Chapter.  6859 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics ; International Relations

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