From Kosovo to Kashmir, from Northern Ireland to Nigeria, most conflicts in the world today are ethnic conflicts over territory. This encyclopedia covers ethnic separatism and related topics. Members of an ethnic group share a common culture and can be distinguished from members of other groups by some social characteristic such as race, language, and religion. They typically feel solidarity with other members of their group and a sense of common identity (a “we–they” feeling). This feeling of distinctiveness leads to social contacts, especially close relationships like marriage, being concentrated within the group. Ethnic identities may be nested within one another; for example, a Shetland Islander may also feel Scottish, and many Scots still feel British. Ethnic groups may be assimilated by other ethnic groups or merge to form a new group. Hundreds of years ago, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Celts, Danes, and Normans fused together to become the English. Ethnic identities may result from contacts between societies, or they may be created by outsiders. In Africa, for instance, the Shirazis of Zanzibar are the result of intermarriage between Persian traders and local Africans. Colonial rulers in Africa, for the purpose of administrative convenience, often made tribal divisions more rigid or even introduced new ones. During the period when Uganda was a British colony, several new ethnic groups emerged, and they modeled themselves on traditional tribes (Lewis 1983).
Present-day Basques want independence from Spain, Kurds from Turkey, Quebec from Canada, to name a few. Somalia seeks to unite all Somalis under one flag and Inner Mongolia to unite with Outer Mongolia. Now you can acquaint yourself with the world's main ethnic separatist and unification crusades, organizations, parties, campaigns, political events, and leaders in this first-of-a-kind reference work.