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"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 independence, self-determination, partition or decolonization movements instead of, or in addition to, autonomist, separatist or secession movements.[citation needed] While some critics may equate separatism and religious segregation, racist segregation, or sexist segregation, some separatists argue that separation by choice is not the same as government-enforced segregation and may serve useful purposes.[3][4][5][6][7]


Russian-speaking separatists at the "Donetsk People's Republic" in Ukraine, on May 9, 2014

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

  • emotional resentment and hatred of rival communities.
  • protection from ethnic cleansing and genocide.
  • 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.
  • 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 American Civil War started after a separatist movement of southern U.S. states seceded from the United States.

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.

Religious separatism[edit]

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 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.[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]

Ethnic separatism[edit]

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 colors 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.
A Tuareg rebel fighter in northern Niger.
Silesians demonstrating in Katowice (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:

Racist separatism[edit]

Some separatist groups seek to separate from others along racist lines. They oppose marriage and association with members of other "races" and seek separate schools, businesses, churches and other institutions or even separate societies, territories, countries, and governments.

Territories considered for "Aztlán"

Geographic and socioeconomic separatism[edit]

Gender and sexist separatism[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Free Dictionary; Merriam Webster dictionary; The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current= English 2008.
  2. ^ Harris, R.; Harris, Jerry (2009). The Nation in the Global Era: Conflict and Transformation. Brill. p. 320. ISBN 90-04-17690-X. "9789004176904" 
  3. ^ Leo, John (June 13, 2007). "Let the Segregation Commence, Separatist graduations proliferate at UCLA". City Journal. 
  4. ^ Levit, Nancy (August 29, 2005). "Embracing Segregation: The Jurisprudence of Choice and Diversity in Race and Sex Separatism in Schools". University of Illinois Law Review (University of Illinois). p. 455. 
  5. ^ Arenson, Karen W. (April 19, 2006). "CUNY Program to Help Black Men Is Called Discriminatory". New York Times. 
  6. ^ Dobratz, Betty A.; Shanks-Meile, Stephanie L. (Summer 2006). "Strategy of White Separatism". Journal of Political and Military Sociology. 
  7. ^ Howell, Nancy B. "Radical Relatedness and Feminist Separatism". 
  8. ^ Spencer, Metta (1998). Separatism: Democracy and Disintegration. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 2–4. 
  9. ^ 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. ^ 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. ^ Metta Spencer, 5-6.
  12. ^ "Identity Politics". Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Stanford University). November 2, 2007. 
  13. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica on religious separatists". 
  14. ^ Goodwin, John Abbot (1888). The Pilgrim republic: an historical review of the colony of New Plymouth. Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 1. 
  15. ^ "Christian separatist on trial in Indonesia". BBC. British Broadcasting Corporation. August 19, 2002. 
  16. ^ Brummitt, Chris (April 5, 2002.). "Christian separatist leader threatens to raise independence flags in Maluku". Associated Press. 
  17. ^ Hussain, Syed Zarir (December 31, 2002). "Christian separatist group in Tripura target tribal Hindus". Indo-Asian News Service. 
  18. ^ "Christian separatist ready for new home". Ventura County Star. June 9, 2007. 
  19. ^ "Colorado Rep. disavows ties to SC Christian separatist group". Associated Press. October 9, 2005. 
  20. ^ Pinson, Koppel S. (1958). Simon Dubnow. pp. 13–69. 
  21. ^ Punj, Blbir (June 16, 2006). "The Ghost of Khalistan". Sikh Times. 
  22. ^ "Niger, hit by Tuareg revolt, adopts anti-terror law". Reuters. April 20, 2008. 
  23. ^ 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. ^ "Who were the Celts? ... Rhagor". Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales website. Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  25. ^ The Bavaria's right to separate itself from the Federal Republic of Germany [1]
  26. ^ 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. ^ African Ethnicities University of Florida online library.
  28. ^ Excerpt from book Ethnic Conflicts in Africa, Okwudiba Nnoli, Distributed by African Books Collective, 1998, 417, University of Florida online library.
  29. ^ 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. ^ a b Reviews of Katharine Adeney Federalism and Ethnic Conflict Regulation in India and Pakistan, Palgrame MacMillan, 2007.
  31. ^ Telangana
  32. ^ Muini, S.D. (1996). "10". Ethnicity and power in the contemporary world. Ethnic conflict, federalism, and democracy in India. United Nations University Press. 
  33. ^ "China issues call to crush Tibetan 'separatists'". Agence France-Presse. 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  34. ^ a b Professor Predicts 'Hispanic Homeland', Associated Press, 2000
  35. ^ Foer, Franklin (November 23, 1997). "Racial Integration". Slate. 
  36. ^ Barlow, Rich (April 26, 2008). "Topic turns to Wright case". Boston Globe. 
  37. ^ Dobratz, Betty A.; Shanks-Meile, Stephanie L. (2000). The White Separatist Movement in the United States: "White Power, White Pride!". The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 1–3, 10. 
  38. ^ Frye, Marilyn; Meyers, Diana Tietjens (1997). "Some Reflections on Separatism and Power". Feminist Social Thought: A Reader (Routledge). pp. 406–414. 
  39. ^ Joyce Cheney, Lesbian Land, Word Weavers Press, 1976.
  40. ^ Mark K. Bloodsworth-Lugo, In-Between Bodies: Sexual Difference, Race, and Sexuality, SUNY Press, 2007, ISBN 0-7914-7221-3
  41. ^ Richard D. Mohr, Gays/Justice: A Study of Ethics, Society, and Law, Columbia University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-231-06735-6

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separatism — Please support Wikipedia.
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4955 news items

National Post

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 04:26:15 -0700

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that increases the punishment for public calls for separatism. The Kremlin's website said on July 22 that the new minimum penalty for separatist calls will be a fine of between 10,000 and 30,000 rubles ...

Kyiv Post

Kyiv Post
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 01:48:45 -0700

Ukraine opens criminal cases against Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky for funding separatism. Print version. July 25, 2014, 11:44 a.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine. Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov (L) and LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky ...
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 03:39:19 -0700

KIEV, July 25. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine's Interior Ministry has instituted criminal cases against two Russian politicians, Vladimir Zhirinovsky who leads the conservative traditionalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and Gennady Zyuganov, the ...
The Guardian Nigeria
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 04:37:30 -0700

UKRAINE'S western-backed government said Wednesday that it was preparing to slap sanctions on Russia for backing pro-Moscow separatists in the ex-Soviet state. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said a special committee had been set up to ...
The Real News Network
Tue, 01 Jul 2014 19:03:45 -0700

Aleksandr Buzgalin is a Professor of Political Economy at Moscow State University. He is also editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives, and is a coordinator of the Russian social movement Alternatives, author of more then 20 ...

Kyiv Post

Kyiv Post
Mon, 14 Jul 2014 02:55:30 -0700

PGO checking involvement of Klymenko's bank in funding of terrorism and separatism in eastern Ukraine. Print version. July 14, 2014, 12:52 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine. Oleksandr Klymenko - Ukrainian entrepreneur and politician, former ...

Channel News Asia

Channel News Asia
Fri, 04 Jul 2014 07:15:00 -0700

MOSCOW: Moscow on Friday broadened legislation against incitement to separatism, a move which analysts say is aimed at muzzling critics of Russia's annexation of Crimea. The law outlawing public calls threatening Russia's territorial integrity ...
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 08:13:07 -0700

YouTube. Error: No subscribe page exists ×. Separatism is rising in other eastern European states. Ukraine isn't the only place Russia has its eye on. Soviet nostalgia is gripping Europe's 'de facto states.' Katie Engelhart. July 10, 2014. Follow ...

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