Fighting the Lernaean Hydra of Post-Socialist Secessionism: Atomization of the Movement Determined by the Crucial Nexus between Secessionism and Nationalism

Authors: Fedor Popov*, University of Colorado, Boulder
Topics: Political Geography, Eurasia, East Europe
Keywords: Nationalism, nation state, secessionism, secession, irredentism, Lernaean effect, post-Soviet space, USSR, SFRY
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 4:55 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Governors Square 11, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Presentation explores the fundamental link between two categories of contemporary political movements, Secessionism and Nationalism. Secessionism could be considered as a widespread form of nationalist expression while nationalism (based on the utopian principle that state borders should derive directly from nation borders) often forms an ideological background of secessionism and serves as a powerful tool for its moral legitimization. Due to the practical impossibility of the principle of nation state to be properly implemented “in real life”, the seeming success of nationalism/secessionism in most cases induces the atomization of the movement (Lernaean effect) as the newborn state basically has to face numerous awakened secessionist movements which use the same principle in order to strengthen their claims for the statehood.
Post-socialist space provides an excellent material for studying the atomization of secessionism as after the break-up of the USSR and the SFRY a number of nationalist movements with secessionist aims appeared. Most of them took the common forms of backward irredentism (movements in Crimea, Novorossiya, Serbian Krajina and Republika Srpska), precedent/inertia secessionism (Chechnya, Kosovo, Montenegro etc.) or secessionism based on the effect of the first order minority (Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh etc.). At the same time the example of Transnistria shows that secessionism could develop even without direct utilizing nationalist basis.

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