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Secession and the Sovereignty Game: Strategy and Tactics for Aspiring Nations

204 Maxwell

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Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs

Comparative Politics/International Relations


Ryan D. Griffiths

Associate Professor, Political Science

Syracuse University

What is the strategy of secession and how do tactics vary by the kind of independence movement? I argue that the rules and informal practices regarding state recognition create a strategic playing field – the Sovereignty Game – between existing states and aspiring nations. In order to win sovereign statehood, an aspiring nation has to compel and persuade their home state and the international community to recognize them. This book explains how they go about it, the dynamics that follow, and how tactics vary according to local conditions. It combines original data, fieldwork in a dozen breakaway regions, more than 100 interviews with secessionist leaders, and case studies on Catalonia, the Murrawarri Republic, West Papua, Bougainville, New Caledonia, and Northern Cyprus.

Ryan Griffiths focuses on the dynamics of secession and the study of sovereignty, state systems, and international orders. In his work on secession, Griffiths emphasizes the international and domestic causes of secessionist conflict over time. These causes are articulated in his book Age of Secession: The International and Domestic Determinants of State Birth (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Griffiths also investigates the organization of the international system, especially as it relates to national sovereignty and different types of political order. Previously, he taught at both the University of Sydney in Australia and at John Hopkins University. He also served as a visiting assistant professor at the Barcelona Institute for International Studies and as a visiting fellow at Yale University’s Macmillan Center. He earned a PhD in international relations and comparative politics at Columbia University in 2010.

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