Cornell University Press

Ryan Griffiths on Secessionist Movements

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We asked author Ryan Griffiths three questions about his new book, Secession and the Sovereignty Game, and his research on how secessionist movements attempt to win independence.

1. What’s your favorite anecdote from your research for this book?

At the strategic level, all contemporary secessionist movements are alike. There is only one international system, one United Nations that secessionists aim to join, and one sovereignty game. Their settings may look different, but the strategic playing field is the same. To win sovereign statehood an aspiring nation has to compel and persuade their home state and the international community to recognize them.

2. What do you wish you had known when you started writing your book, that you know now?

I was struck by the passion and sincerity when doing interviews with secessionists. In a way, each movement is no different from the American revolutionaries that I studied in grade school. There are George Washingtons and Thomas Jeffersons in the making. Indeed, many of them see themselves in that light. How history records them will depend, in part, on whether they succeed.

3. How do you wish you could change your field of study?

This project has pulled me in two directions. One is to know more about social movements and revolutions. The other is about international law. Whereas the first helps explain the dynamics of secessionism, the second clarifies the structure in which it occurs. I became fascinated with both areas of study and intend to work them into future projects.

*Featured photo: Depiction of war in Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy. Credit: Chris Curry.

Cover image of Secession and the Sovereignty Game. Read more about this book.

Ryan D. Griffiths is Associate Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University. He is author of Age of Secession. Follow him on Twitter @RyeGriffiths.

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