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Separatism is the advocacy of a state of cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, racial, governmental or gender separation from the larger group. While it often refers to full political secession, separatist groups may seek nothing more than greater autonomy. Some groups refer to their organizing as independence, self-determination, partition or decolonization movements instead of, or in addition to, autonomist, separatist or secession movements. While some critics may equate separatism and religious segregation, racial segregation or sexual segregation, separatists argue that separation by choice is not the same as government-enforced segregation and may serve useful purposes.
Groups may have one or more motivations for separation, including:
- emotional resentment of rival communities.
- protection from ethnic cleansing and genocide.
- justified resistance by victims of oppression, including denigration of their language, culture or religion.
- propaganda by those who hope to gain politically from intergroup conflict and hatred.
- the economic and political dominance of one group that does not share power and privilege in an egalitarian fashion.
- detaching from generally accepted stereotypes and sacrificing more time to create happiness mote sustainability than the current flow of things
- economic motivations: seeking to end economic exploitation by more powerful group or, conversely, to escape economic redistribution from a richer to a poorer group.
- preservation of threatened religious, language or other cultural tradition.
- destabilization from one separatist movement giving rise to others.
- geopolitical power vacuum from breakup of larger states or empires.
- continuing fragmentation as more and more states break up.
- feeling that the perceived nation was added to the larger state by illegitimate means.
- the perception that the state can no longer support one’s own group or has betrayed their interests.
- opposition to political decisions
- wish to have a more practical political structure and not rely on people who are located far away to govern them or otherwise impractical solutions
How far separatist demands will go toward full independence, and whether groups pursue constitutional and nonviolent or armed violence, depend on a variety of economic, political, social and cultural factors, including movement leadership and the government’s response.Governments may respond in a number of ways, some of which are mutually exclusive. Some include:
- accede to separatist demands
- improve the circumstances of disadvantaged minorities, be they religious, linguistic, territorial, economic or political
- adopt “asymmetric federalism” where different states have different relations to the central government depending on separatist demands or considerations
- allow minorities to win in political disputes about which they feel strongly, through parliamentary voting, referendum, etc.
- settle for a confederation or a commonwealth relationship where there are only limited ties among states.
Some governments suppress any separatist movement in their own country, but support separatism in other countries.
Types of separatist groups
Separatist groups practice a form of identity politics – “political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups.” Such groups believe attempts at integration with dominant groups compromise their identity and ability to pursue greater self-determination. However, economic and political factors usually are critical in creating strong separatist movements as opposed to less ambitious identity movements.
- English Christians in the 16th and 17th centuries who wished to separate from the Church of England and form independent local churches were influential politically under Oliver Cromwell, who was himself a separatist. They were eventually called Congregationalists. The Pilgrims who established the first successful colony in New England were separatists.
- Christian separatist groups in Indonesia, India and South Carolina (United States).
- Zionism sought the creation of the state of Israel as a Jewish homeland. This resulted in religious separatism between the Jewish Israelis, and Muslim and Christian Palestinians following the Balfour Declaration. Simon Dubnow, who was ambivalent toward Zionism, formulated Jewish Autonomism which was adopted in eastern Europe by Jewish political parties such as the Bund and his own Folkspartei before World War II. Zionism can also be seen as somewhat ethnic too, however, as its definition of who is Jewish has often included people of Jewish background who do not practice the Jewish religion.
- The Partition of India and (later Pakistan and Bangladesh) arose as a result of separatism on the part of both Hindus and Muslims, as well as strong national identities on both sides.
- India and Philippines have Muslim-separatist groups.
- Sikhs in India sought an independent nation of Khalistan during the 1970s and 1980s. The Khalistan movement inside India that even involved the assassination of the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi as a retaliation of an Indian military operation Operation Blue Star directed against Sikh militants in the Sikhs’ holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, in which many innocent Sikh civilians too lost their lives. The murder of Mrs. Indira Gandhi evoked a backlash in the form of mass murders of Sikhs in 1984, which only further strengthened the Khalistan Movement, but it largely subsided owing to the efforts of the police in Punjab, led by a Sikh police officer KPS Gill. However, some in the Sikh diaspora in the West and elsewhere, and even Sikhs in India, still support the idea of Khalistan, and there have been sporadic instances of violence for this cause, or attempts at the same, which have been foiled by India’s intelligence agencies and security personnel.
- Independence movement in Puerto Rico with the goal of obtaining independence from the United States.
- The Tuareg separatists in Niger and Mali.
- The Soviet Union’s dissolution into its original ethnic groupings which formed their own nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia,Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
- Chechen separatism in the Caucasus, currently the Republic of Chechnya is part of the Russian Federation (Russian rule).
- South Ossetia and Abkhazia separatism in Georgia.
- Armenian separatists of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.
- Azeri separatists in Iran want to re-unite the provinces of East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Zanjan and Ardabil with Azerbaijan.
- The Kurdish people whose lands and peoples were divided between Turkey, Syria, Iraq after World War I. Also the Kurdish region in Iran.
- Silesian separatism in Poland and Czech Republic.
- Spain’s Basque, Galician and Catalan separatists. Minor separatist movements in Andalusia, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands,Castile (almost non-existent), León, Navarre and Valencia (see nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain).
- “Celtic Nations“ in the British Isles have created various separatist movements from the United Kingdom described as Scottish independence, Welsh Nationalism, Irish Republicanism and Cornish Nationalism. In addition to the Celtic nationalisms, there are alsoEnglish nationalist and independence movements.
- France’s Basque, Catalan, Corsican, Breton and Savoyan separatists.
- Italy’s Venetian, Sicilian and Sardinian separatists; separatist movements of Northern Italy called Padania.
- Bavarian separatism in Germany, despite the Bavarian Land being referred to as the Bavarian Free State. 
- Czechoslovakia‘s split into ethnic Czech and Slovakian republics in 1993.
- The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia dissolution into ethnic (and religious) based Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia,Slovenia, Montenegroand Serbia.
- Belgium granting Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia greater autonomy.
- In the Netherlands some Frisians covet an autonomous country or area (Friese beweging).
- Switzerland’s division into cantons along geographical, religious and linguistic lines.
- French-speaking Quebec debating and voting on separation from Canada over several decades. It is unclear if this is a matter of ethnic, linguistic or territorial nationalism.
- Africa’s hundreds of ethnic groups are subsumed into 53 nation states, often leading to ethnic conflict and separatism, including in Angola,Algeria, Burundi, the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, Congo and The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur in Sudan, Ethiopia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, Western Sahara and Zimbabwe.
- The Nigerian civil war (also known as the Biafran war) during the 1960s among Igbos, Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba; today’s ethnic and oil-related conflict in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.
- Conflicts in Liberia between African-Liberians and Americo-Liberians, Africans who immigrated from the Americas after being freed from slavery.
- Conflicts between Zulus and Xhosa in South Africa during and after apartheid.
- Boere-Afrikaners separatists.
- Anjouan‘s separatism in the Union of Comoros as the island is a separate community from that of Comoros.
- Separatist movements of Pakistan including Balochistan movement, Sindhudesh movement and Pashtunistan movement.
- Separatist movements of India including Separate Statehood movement of Telangana, Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and Insurgent groups in Northeast India
- Sri Lanka‘s ethnic Tamil minority separatism in Tamil Eelam.
- Burma (Union of Myanmar)’s ethnic Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Shan, Wa separatism.
- Ethnic Malay separatism in Thailand.
- Free Papua Movement in West Papua, Indonesia.
- China’s Tibet has a separatist government in exile.
- Ethnic-based separatism among Turkic groups in Xinjiang (Uighurs).
- Māori separatism in New Zealand.
- The breakup of the Habsburg Empire into ethnic-based states.
- The breakup of the Ottoman Empire into ethnic based states.
- Hispanic (mostly Chicano) separatism, as embodied in the Chicano Movement (or Chicano nation) in the United States sought to recreate Aztlán, the mythical homeland of the Uto-Aztecs comprising the Southwestern United States which is home to the majority of Mexican Americans. They drew on the Latin American concepts of racial identity such as the bronze race and La Raza Cósmica. Today a small Raza Unida Party continues with similar goals.
||The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (August 2011)|
Some groups seek to separate from others along racialist lines. They oppose inter-marriage with other races and seek separate schools, businesses, churches and other institutions or even separate societies, territories and governments.
- Black separatism (or black nationalism) is the most prominent wave advancing the concepts of Black racial identity in the United States and has been advanced by black leaders like Marcus Garvey and the Nation of Islam. Critical race theorists like New York University‘s Derrick Bell and University of Colorado‘s Richard Delgado argue the American legal, education and political party systems are rife with racism. They support efforts like all-black schools and dorms and question the efficacy of government-enforced integration. In 2008 statements by Barack Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright, Jr. revived the issue of the current relevance of black separatism.
- Latin American concepts of racial identity such as the bronze race and La Raza Cósmica found in the small separatist Raza Unida Party. TheChicano Movement (or Chicano nation) in the United States sought to recreate Aztlán, the mythical homeland of the Aztecs comprising theSouthwestern United States.
- White separatism in the United States and Western Europe seeks separation and survival of the white race and limits to immigration by non-whites. According to two sociologists writing in the year 2000, most separatists now reject any ideology of white supremacy, though advocacy groups continue to demonize such separatist groups.
- Most North American and many other Native American groups already have a high degree of autonomy. Complete separatism is advocated by some members of the Canadian First Nations, American Indian Movement, Republic of Lakotah (Lakota Sioux people in South Dakota), the Navajoor “Na-Dene” Nationalists in Arizona and tribal groups in Eastern Oklahoma, most notably the Cherokee people of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
- Hawaiian sovereignty movement seeks some form of sovereignty for Hawaii.
Gender and sexuality
Separatist feminism is women’s choosing to separate from ostensibly male-defined, male-dominated institutions, relationships, roles and activities. Lesbian separatism advocateslesbianism as the logical result of feminism. Some separatist feminists and lesbian separatists have chosen to live apart in intentional community, cooperatives, and on land trusts. “Gay” separatism including both lesbians and gay men holds they should form a community distinct and separate from other groups.
- Free Dictionary; Merriam Webster dictionary; The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current= English 2008.
- R. Harris, Jerry Harris, The Nation in the Global Era: Conflict and Transformation, Brill, 2009,p. 320, ISBN 90-04-17690-X, 9789004176904
- John Leo, “Let the Segregation Commence, Separatist graduations proliferate at UCLA”,City Journal, June 13, 2007
- Nancy Levit, Embracing Segregation: The Jurisprudence of Choice and Diversity in Race and Sex Separatism in Schools (PDF), University of Illinois Law Review, August 29, 2005, 455.
- Karen W. Arenson, CUNY Program to Help Black Men Is Called Discriminatory, New York Times, April 19, 2006.
- Betty A. Dobratz, Stephanie L. Shanks-Meile, Strategy of White Separatism, Journal of Political and Military Sociology, Summer 2006.
- Nancy B. Howell, Radical Relatedness and Feminist Separatism.
- Metta Spencer, Separatism: Democracy and Disintegration, Rowman & Littlefield, 1998, 2-4.
- Link to: Chima, Jugdep. “Effects of Political Leadership on Ethnic Separatist Movements in India” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Palmer House Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, April 12, 2007 (PDF); Chima, Jugdep. “How Does Political Leadership Affect the Trajectories of Ethnic Separatist Insurgencies?: Comparative Evidence from Movements in India” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Marriott Wardman Park, Omni Shoreham, Washington Hilton, Washington, D.C., September 01, 2005 (PDF).
- See D.L. Horowitz’s “Patterns of Ethnic Separatism”, originally published in Comparative Studies in Society and History, 1981, vol 23, 165-95. Republished in John A. Hall, The State: Critical Concepts, Routledge, 1994.
- Metta Spencer, 5-6.
- Identity Politics, Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy, November 2, 2007.
- Encyclopædia Britannica on religious separatists.
- John Abbot Goodwin, The Pilgrim republic: an historical review of the colony of New Plymouth…, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1888, separatists&f=false p. 1
- Christian separatist on trial in Indonesia, BBC, August 19, 2002.
- Chris Brummitt, Christian separatist leader threatens to raise independence flags in Maluku, Associated Press, April 5, 2002.
- Syed Zarir Hussain, Christian separatist group in Tripura target tribal Hindus, Indo-Asian News Service, December 31, 2002/
- Christian separatist ready for new home, Ventura County Star, June 9, 2007.
- Colorado Rep. disavows ties to SC Christian separatist group, Associated Press, October 9, 2005.
- Koppel S. Pinson, Simon Dubnow, p. 13-69, 1958.
- Blbir Punj, The Ghost of Khalistan, SikhTimes.com, June 16, 2006.
- Niger, hit by Tuareg revolt, adopts anti-terror law . Reuters. April 20, 2008.
- Mughal, Muhammad Aurang Zeb. 2012. Spain. Steven L. Denver (ed.), Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures, and Contemporary Issues, Vol. 3. Armonk, NY: M .E. Sharpe, pp. 674-675.
- “Who were the Celts? … Rhagor”. Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales website.Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- The Bavaria’s right to separate itself from the Federal Republic of Germany 
- Harold E. Glass, Ethnic Diversity, Elite Accommodation and Federalism in Switzerland, Publius, Vol. 7, No. 4, Federalism and Ethnicity (Autumn, 1977), 31-48. Oxford University Press.
- African Ethnicities University of Florida online library.
- Excerpt from book Ethnic Conflicts in Africa, Okwudiba Nnoli, Distributed by African Books Collective, 1998, 417, University of Florida online library.
- Emmy Godwin Irobi, Ethnic Conflict Management in Africa: A Comparative Case Study of Nigeria and South Africa, May, 2005, Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder.
- Reviews of Katharine Adeney Federalism and Ethnic Conflict Regulation in India and Pakistan, Palgrame MacMillan, 2007.
- S.D. Muini, Ethnic conflict, federalism, and democracy in India, Chapter 10 of Ethnicity and power in the contemporary world, Edited by Kumar Rupesinghe and Valery A. Tishkov, United Nations University Press, 1996.
- “China issues call to crush Tibetan ‘separatists'”. Agence France-Presse. 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2010-07-29.
- Professor Predicts ‘Hispanic Homeland’, Associated Press, 2000
- Franklin Foer, Racial Integration, Slate, November 23, 1997.
- Rich Barlow, Topic turns to Wright case, Boston Globe, April 26, 2008.
- Betty A. Dobratz, Stephanie L. Shanks-Meile, The White Separatist Movement in the United States: “White Power, White Pride!”, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000, 1-3, 10.
- Marilyn Frye, “Some Reflections on Separatism and Power” in Feminist Social Thought: A Reader, Diana Tietjens Meyers (ed.) Routledge, 1997, 406-414.
- Joyce Cheney, Lesbian Land, Word Weavers Press, 1976.
- Mark K. Bloodsworth-Lugo, In-Between Bodies: Sexual Difference, Race, and Sexuality, SUNY Press, 2007, ISBN 0-7914-7221-3
- Richard D. Mohr, Gays/Justice: A Study of Ethics, Society, and Law, Columbia University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-231-06735-6
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Separatism.|
- Graham K. Brown, “Horizontal Inequalities, Ethnic Separatism and Violent Conflict: The Case of Aceh, Indonesia”, United Nations Human Development Report 2005 (PDF).
- Cabestan, Jean-Pierre; Pavković, Aleksandar, eds. (2013). Secessionism and Separatism in Europe and Asia: To have a state of one’s own. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-66774-6.
- Anthony Cordesman, “Pandora’s Box: Iraqi Federalism, Separatism, “Hard” Partitioning, and US Policy”, Working Draft, Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 9, 2007 (PDF).
- James Millard, “Violent Separatism in Xinjiang: A Critical Assessment”, East-West Center, 2004 (PDF).
- Michelle Ann Miller (2004). “The Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam law: a serious response to Acehnese separatism?”. Asian Ethnicity 5(3): 333–351.
- Michelle Ann Miller, ed. (2012). Autonomy and Armed Separatism in South and Southeast Asia (Singapore: ISEAS).
- Ryan Griffiths, “Globalization, Development and Separatism: The Influence of External and Internal Economic Factors on the Strategy of Separatism” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA’s 49th AAnnual Convention, Bridging Multiple Divides, Hilton San Francisco, San Francisco, USA, March 26, 2008 (PDF).
- Pascal Boniface, “Ideals or Interest: ‘Pandora’s box’”, Le Monde Diplomatique, January 1999.