Rightsizing the State: The Politics of Moving Borders

Rightsizing the State: The Politics of Moving Borders

Rightsizing the State: The Politics of Moving Borders

Rightsizing the State: The Politics of Moving Borders


'This is an excellent book and seems set to become a foundational work... both theoretically strong and directly politically relevant... The book displays the kind of coherence and clear sense of purpose which is lacking in many edited books... All of the contributors bring a wealth of empirical data and a fine-grained understanding of the specifics of place to the book... This is an amazingly rich book, both theoretically and empirically.' -The Global Review of Ethnopolitics'This book with its two frameworks in an attempted synthesis, one by O'Leary focused on ethno-nationalism and the other by Lustick not especially dealing with nationalism, must be evaluated as a new creative set of propositions of much value in the quest for solutions for states with inflamed borders. The case studies are, in particular, rich in offering insights and can be fruitfully applied to ethno-national struggles.' -Nations and NationalismA leading group of scholars examine the circumstances under which central states might change their shape in responding to ethnic upheavals and regionalist demands. A systematic approach is applied to a country-by-country approach examining in turn most of the key areas of state boundary disputes in the contemporary world.


Brendan O'Leary

Our century has witnessed one successful de-territorialisation of nationalism: everyone knows now that the power and prestige of a nation depends on its annual rate of growth and its economic clout, and not, on how much of the map it manages to paint with its own colour. A further de-territorialisation . . . would be eminently desirable. But it will be exceedingly difficult: the entire weight of romantic literature is on the side of the fetishisation of landscape, of national culture as expressed in land-use and in its territorial delimitation.

Ernest Gellner (1997 : 107-8)

Was Ernest Gellner correct to conclude that the last century bore testimony to the partial de-territorialization of nationalism? Will this new century occasion the political de-fetishization of landscapes? These questions do not permit easy answers. A comparison of the political map of the world in 1900 with that of 2000 is most instructive—see Figs. 1.1 and 1.2 . In 1900, empires dominated most of the earth's surface: the Austro-Hungarian, the Belgian, the British, the Chinese, the Dutch, the French, the German, the Italian, the Ottoman, the Russian, the Spanish, and the Portuguese empires held most of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australasia, and Oceania under direct and indirect rule. By 2000 these empires had gone or had been reduced to rumps, and the significantly named United Nations had nearly 200 member-states. In an interval of just one hundred years the initial map had been torn up by two world wars. Before, during, and just after the first the Austro-Hungarian, Chinese, German, Ottoman, Russian, and Spanish empires were wholly or partly destroyed, and their cores converted into precarious republics. The second world war saw off renewed German imperialism with a fascist face, and its Italian and Japanese allies and equivalents, but it so weakened most of the remaining empires that the de-colonization of their remaining 'possessions' occurred almost as fast as their nineteenth century conquests. The forty years from 1948 until 1988 saw the astonishing rise and fall of

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