Independence, Self-Determination and Secession

Dr Adam Fusco (University of York, UK) & Dr Anna Meine (University of Siegen,
Germany) &

At present the status of Catalonia, Scotland and the East of Ukraine are in question, the
dispute concerning a Kurdish state is increasingly turning violent, and Brexit engages
politicians and publics in all member states of the EU. Around the world, movements are
making claims for self-determination and independence, and in cases have not ruled out
unilateral acts of secession. However, groups who make these claims or exert their
existing rights, often find them frustrated by political, legal, economic and (neo-)colonial
forms of power. Against this background, theoretical inquiry into these issues is timely and
important. This workshop aims to bring together scholars from different strands of
academic discussion and theoretical and normative perspectives for an examination and
critical discussion of the interrelated concepts of independence, self-determination and
secession. It seeks to stimulate debate and new scholarship concerning the meaning and
value of these concepts, as well as debate on the political validity and desirability of
claims for these ideas at different times as well as in different contexts.

National and/or democratic self-determination is widely accepted as a basis for
legitimate government. However, debates proliferate on the grounds of claims to selfdetermination, the groups holding these claims, as well as the significance of boundariesfor this right. They are especially timely regarding post- and neo-colonial contexts, wherethese concepts are receiving significant discussion.

Claims to secession vary in terms of the nature of the group, the political unit groups are
seceding from, as well as the historical context and the reasons provided for the claim.
We are also interested in research on the forms and procedures of seceding, as well as in
debates about secession and its alternatives. Normative scrutiny is required to determine
whether claims to secession have validity and if cases can be treated differently
depending on specific constellations they exhibit.

Independence as a political idea has shaped domestic as well as international
developments for centuries. Historical as well as contemporary movements have aimed for independence in imperial, colonial and relatively just or democratic settings. In an
increasingly interdependent and post-sovereign world, claims for independence are being
made in a context where states are facing increasing pressure to assert their authority
against competing sources of power, from sources such as the global market or
supranational institutions.

To stimulate debate and scholarship on these issues we invite submissions on topics
including, but not limited to:
• Beyond rights violations: domination-based and new approaches to secession
• Secession from democracies: unilateral vs. negotiated secession
• Decolonisation, neo-colonialism, self-determination, and the critique of empire
• Self-determination and the people: is self-determination possible without the
• Self-determination and territorial rights
• The meaning of ‘independence’ in the history of ideas as well as in today’s
increasingly post-sovereign world
• Historical approaches to independence, self-determination and secession
• Federalism, regional autonomy or secession-rights: How should competing claims
for self-determination be managed?
• Theoretical reflections on Brexit, Scotland, Catalonia, etc.