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Irredentism is an international relations term that involves advocating annexation of territories administered by another state on the grounds of common ethnicity and/or prior historical possession, actual or alleged. It is a feature of identity politics and cultural and political geography. Since most borders have been moved and redrawn at one point, a great many countries could theoretically present irredentist claims to their neighbours.

However, some countries are the subject of potential irredentism from birth. Post-WWI Eastern Europe had borders carved out by the Allies that left many of the new countries in that region unsatisfied due to minority populations and conflicting historical claims. Many of Africa's borders were artificially imposed by European colonial powers. The result split ethnic groups between different countries, such as the Igbo who are divided among Nigeria, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.

An area that may be subjected to a potential claim is therefore sometimes called an irredenta. Not all potential irredentas are involved in actual irredentism.


[edit] Origins

Main article: Italia irredenta

The word was coined in Italy from the phrase Italia irredenta ("unredeemed Italy"). This originally referred to Austro-Hungarian rule over mostly or partly Italian-inhabited territories such as Trentino and Trieste during the 19th and early 20th century.

A common way to express a claim to adjacent territories on the grounds of historical or ethnic association is by using the epithet "Greater" before the country name, as in Greater Syria or Greater Serbia. This conveys the image of national territory at its maximum conceivable extent with the country "proper" at its core, e.g. Serbia proper. It must be noted that the use of "Greater" does not always convey an irredentistic meaning. For instance, Greater Romania is the common translation given to the Romanian term "Romania Mare", which is the name given between the two World Wars to the Kingdom of Romania.

[edit] "Triadic nexus" of irredenta conflict

In his 1996 book, Nationalism Reframed, Rogers Brubaker outlined a pattern to describe a common theme of irredentist conflict, referred to as the "triadic nexus". In this view, irredenta conflict is a conflict between three parties: a nationalizing state, a national movement representing an ethnic minority within that state, and an external national homeland, to which that minority is construed as ethnically belonging. Brubaker's triadic nexus is a visual representation of this, granting each party a corner of the triangle. The implication is that the national minority is caught between the nationalizing state within whose borders it exists, and the external homeland to which it is seen as belonging.

[edit] Constitutional irredentism

Some states formalize their irredentist claims by including them in their constitutional documents.

Argentina Part III, Section 1 of the Constitution of the Argentine Nation states that "The Argentine Nation ratifies its legitimate and non-prescribing sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and over the corresponding maritime and insular zones, as they are an integral part of the national territory. The recovery of said territories and the full exercise of sovereignty, respectful of the way of life of their inhabitants and according to the principles of international law, are a permanent and unrelinquished goal of the Argentine people." Section 35 mentions that the Argentine Nation is the modern name of the United Provinces of the River Plata, which included Uruguay as the Province of Montevideo until 1830.

China The preamble to the constitution of the People's Republic of China states "Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People's Republic of China. It is the lofty duty of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland." From 1948 to 1991 the Free Area of the Republic of China was under martial law made legal by the Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion, a constitutional amendment to be enforced as long as the "communist rebellion" in mainland China lasts. The Republic of China has not formally renounced claims to the areas currently controlled by the People's Republic of China, Mongolia, Tuvan Republic and parts of Burma and other Central Asian states bordering China, though it no longer actively pursues these claims.

Comoros Article 1 of the Constitution of the Union of the Comoros begins: "The Union of the Comoros is a republic, composed of the autonomous islands of Mohéli, Mayotte, Anjouan, and Grande Comore." Mayotte, geographically a part of the Comoro Islands, was the only island of the four to vote against independence from France (a 63%-37% majority) in the referendum held December 22, 1974. The total vote was 94%-5% in favor of independence. Mayotte is currently a "departmental collectivity" of the French Republic.

The Republic of India From 1950 - present claims Jammu and Kashmir as part of the state's "national territory" as well as what it calls Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and China Occupied Kashmir (COK).

Republic of Ireland From 1937 until 1999 Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland claimed Northern Ireland as part of the state's "national territory".

Somalia Prior to its break-up as a functioning state, the Somali constitution contained paragraphs explicitly claiming adjacent territories.

In addition, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hungary, Suriname and Venezuela have all at one point in their recent history inscribed territorial claims extending into other states in formal documents, such as constitutions. Colombia had its borders redrawn early in the 20th century with the independence of Panama in 1903.

Some of the most violent irredentist conflicts of recent times in Europe flared up as a consequence of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The wars in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina were largely about creating a new political framework of states, each of which would be ethnically and politically homogeneous. The conflict erupted further south with the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo seeking to switch allegiance to the adjoining state of Albania. (See Chazan, 1991, Irredentism and international politics)

[edit] See also

de:Irredentismus es:Irredentismo fr:Irrédentisme it:Irredentismo nl:Irredentisme pl:Irredenta pt:Irredentismo sl:Iredentizem sr:Иредентизам sh:Iredentizam fi:Irredentismi sv:Irredentism zh:民族统一主义


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