6.6.3  Separatism: Tribalism, Regionalisation and Partition

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Although cultures can gradually merge within peaceful pluralism (4.4.1), some people might want to preserve aspects of their distinctive cultural identity.  And, particularly if ethnic tensions have been inflamed (, there can be a descent into identity politics, as described later in this chapter (, and separatist pressures can emerge. 

Some separatist political alternatives to peaceful pluralism have been attempted, as described in the following sub-sections:

·      Tribalism is a traditional form of fragmented governance ( 

·      Regionalisation has been successful in several countries (

·      Partition, which is the most extreme form of separatism, has sometimes been implemented – usually at great cost (

·      Within a society, separatist enclaves and ghettos can be allowed, or be encouraged, to develop (; this leads to instability.

If political processes fail to find a peaceful solution to separatist pressures, some groups may break the law – using terrorism, possibly escalating to civil war – in an attempt to reset the basis of negotiation.  Civil war is a subject for the next chapter (7.2.6); ultimately it can only be resolved by returning to the negotiating table to find a political solution.

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