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  (Redirected from Separatist movement)
“Separatist” redirects here. For other uses, see Separatist (disambiguation).
For Wikipedia’s meaning of separatism, see Separatism.

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,[1] separatist groups may seek nothing more than greater autonomy.[2] Some groups refer to their organizing as independenceself-determinationpartition or decolonization movements instead of, or in addition to, autonomist, separatist or secession movements.[citation needed] While some critics may equate separatism and religious segregationracial segregation or sexual segregation, separatists argue that separation by choice is not the same as government-enforced segregation and may serve useful purposes.[3][4][5][6][7]




Groups may have one or more motivations for separation, including:[8]

  • emotional resentment of rival communities.

    Russian-speaking separatists inDonetsk People’s RepublicUkraine, May 9, 2014

  • 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

Governmental responses[edit]

In 1861 the United States started the American Civil War in response to aSouthern separatist movement

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[9] and the government’s response.[10]Governments may respond in a number of ways, some of which are mutually exclusive. Some include:[11]

  • 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[edit]

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.[12] However, economic and political factors usually are critical in creating strong separatist movements as opposed to less ambitious identity movements.[10]

See more complete lists of historical and active autonomist and secessionist movements, as well as a list of unrecognized countries.


A proposed flag for Khalistan, the independent Sikh state.

Religious separatist groups and sects want to withdraw from some larger religious groups and/or believe they should interact primarily with co-religionists.[citation needed]

  • 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.[13] The Pilgrims who established the first successful colony in New England were separatists.[14]
  • Christian separatist groups in Indonesia,[15][16] India[17] and South Carolina (United States).[18][19]
  • 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 DeclarationSimon 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.[20] 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.[citation needed]
  • 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.[21]


Catalan independentist mural in Belfast.

Map of active separatist movements in Europe. Red names indicate regions with movements that only claim greater autonomy within the actual state. Black names indicate regions with important secessionist movements, although both categories include moderate movements. The nations highlighted in colours are the territories claimed by the local nationalist groups, including areas out of the state’s borders and cases of annexation to other states (click to enlarge).

OLF rebels in Kenya armed with AK-47 rifles.

Tuareg rebel fighter in northern Niger.

Silesians demonstrating inKatowice (in Silesia).

Ethnic separatism is based more on cultural and linguistic differences than religious or racial differences, which also may exist. Notable ethnic separatist movements include:


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.

Territories considered for “Aztlán”


Gender and sexuality[edit]

Separatist feminism is women’s choosing to separate from ostensibly male-defined, male-dominated institutions, relationships, roles and activities.[38] Lesbian separatism advocateslesbianism as the logical result of feminism. Some separatist feminists and lesbian separatists have chosen to live apart in intentional communitycooperatives, and on land trusts.[39] “Gay” separatism including both lesbians and gay men holds they should form a community distinct and separate from other groups.[40][41]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ Free DictionaryMerriam Webster dictionaryThe Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current= English 2008.
  2. Jump up^ R. Harris, Jerry Harris, The Nation in the Global Era: Conflict and Transformation, Brill, 2009,p. 320ISBN 90-04-17690-X, 9789004176904
  3. Jump up^ John Leo, “Let the Segregation Commence, Separatist graduations proliferate at UCLA”,City Journal, June 13, 2007
  4. Jump up^ 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.
  5. Jump up^ Karen W. Arenson, CUNY Program to Help Black Men Is Called DiscriminatoryNew York Times, April 19, 2006.
  6. Jump up^ Betty A. Dobratz, Stephanie L. Shanks-Meile, Strategy of White SeparatismJournal of Political and Military Sociology, Summer 2006.
  7. Jump up^ Nancy B. Howell, Radical Relatedness and Feminist Separatism.
  8. Jump up^ Metta Spencer, Separatism: Democracy and Disintegration, Rowman & Littlefield, 1998, 2-4.
  9. Jump up^ 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).
  10. Jump up to:a b 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.
  11. Jump up^ Metta Spencer, 5-6.
  12. Jump up^ Identity PoliticsStanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy, November 2, 2007.
  13. Jump up^ Encyclopædia Britannica on religious separatists.
  14. Jump up^ John Abbot Goodwin, The Pilgrim republic: an historical review of the colony of New Plymouth…, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1888, separatists&f=false p. 1
  15. Jump up^ Christian separatist on trial in IndonesiaBBC, August 19, 2002.
  16. Jump up^ Chris Brummitt, Christian separatist leader threatens to raise independence flags in MalukuAssociated Press, April 5, 2002.
  17. Jump up^ Syed Zarir Hussain, Christian separatist group in Tripura target tribal Hindus, Indo-Asian News Service, December 31, 2002/
  18. Jump up^ Christian separatist ready for new homeVentura County Star, June 9, 2007.
  19. Jump up^ Colorado Rep. disavows ties to SC Christian separatist group, Associated Press, October 9, 2005.
  20. Jump up^ Koppel S. Pinson, Simon Dubnow, p. 13-69, 1958.
  21. Jump up^ Blbir Punj, The Ghost of, June 16, 2006.
  22. Jump up^ Niger, hit by Tuareg revolt, adopts anti-terror law . Reuters. April 20, 2008.
  23. Jump up^ 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.
  24. Jump up^ “Who were the Celts? … Rhagor”Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales website.Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  25. Jump up^ The Bavaria’s right to separate itself from the Federal Republic of Germany [1]
  26. Jump up^ 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.
  27. Jump up^ African Ethnicities University of Florida online library.
  28. Jump up^ Excerpt from book Ethnic Conflicts in Africa, Okwudiba Nnoli, Distributed by African Books Collective, 1998, 417, University of Florida online library.
  29. Jump up^ 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.
  30. Jump up to:a b Reviews of Katharine Adeney Federalism and Ethnic Conflict Regulation in India and Pakistan, Palgrame MacMillan, 2007.
  31. Jump up^ Telangana
  32. Jump up^ 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.
  33. Jump up^ “China issues call to crush Tibetan ‘separatists'”Agence France-Presse. 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2010-07-29.
  34. Jump up to:a b Professor Predicts ‘Hispanic Homeland’, Associated Press, 2000
  35. Jump up^ Franklin Foer, Racial IntegrationSlate, November 23, 1997.
  36. Jump up^ Rich Barlow, Topic turns to Wright caseBoston Globe, April 26, 2008.
  37. Jump up^ 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.
  38. Jump up^ Marilyn Frye, “Some Reflections on Separatism and Power” in Feminist Social Thought: A Reader, Diana Tietjens Meyers (ed.) Routledge, 1997, 406-414.
  39. Jump up^ Joyce Cheney, Lesbian Land, Word Weavers Press, 1976.
  40. Jump up^ Mark K. Bloodsworth-Lugo, In-Between Bodies: Sexual Difference, Race, and Sexuality, SUNY Press, 2007, ISBN 0-7914-7221-3
  41. Jump up^ Richard D. Mohr, Gays/Justice: A Study of Ethics, Society, and Law, Columbia University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-231-06735-6

Further reading[edit]


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