Partition (politics)

In politics, a partition is a change of political borders cutting through at least one territory considered a homeland by some community.[1]

The island of Ireland after partition between the primarily Irish nationalist Southern Ireland (today the Republic of Ireland) and the Irish unionist-majority Northern Ireland (today part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

Arguments forEdit

  • historicist – that partition is inevitable, or already in progress
  • last resort – that partition should be pursued to avoid the worst outcomes (genocide or large-scale ethnic expulsion), if all other means fail
  • cost–benefit – that partition offers a better prospect of conflict reduction than the if existing borders are not changed
  • better tomorrow – that partition will reduce current violence and conflict, and that the new more homogenized states will be more stable
  • rigorous end – heterogeneity leads to problems, hence homogeneous states should be the goal of any policy[1]

Arguments againstEdit

  • national territorial unity will be lost
  • bi-nationalism and multi-nationalism are not undesirable
  • the impossibility of a just partition
  • difficult in deciding how the new border(s) will be drawn
  • the likelihood of disorder and violence
  • partitioning alone does not lead to the desired homogenization
  • security issues arising within the borders of the new states[1]

Daniel Posner has argued that partitions of diverse communities into homogenous communities is unlikely to solve problems of communal conflict, as the boundary changes will alter the actors' incentives and give rise to new cleavages.[2] For example, while the Muslim and Hindu cleavages might have been the most salient amid the Indian independence movement, the creation of a religiously homogenous Hindu state (India) and a religiously homogeneous Muslim state (Pakistan) created new social cleavages on lines other than religion in both of those states.[2] Posner writes that relatively homogenous countries can be more violence-prone than countries with a large number of evenly matched ethnic groups.[3]


Notable examples are: (See Category:Partition)

See alsoEdit


  2. ^ a b Posner, Daniel N. (26 September 2017). "When and why do some social cleavages become politically salient rather than others?". Ethnic and Racial Studies. 40 (12): 2001–2019. doi:10.1080/01419870.2017.1277033. ISSN 0141-9870.
  3. ^ Posner, Daniel N. (2003). "The Colonial Origins of Ethnic Cleavages: The Case of Linguistic Divisions in Zambia". Comparative Politics. 35 (2): 127–146. doi:10.2307/4150148. ISSN 0010-4159.
  4. ^ Norman Davies. God's Playground , p. 28
  5. ^ Stephen R. Turnbull. Tannenberg 1410: Disaster for the Teutonic Knights p. 89
  6. ^ Millot, Claude François Xavier. Elements of General History: Ancient and Modern p. 227
  7. ^ Arthur Hassall. The Balance of Power, 1715–1789, p. 242
  8. ^ "Today in History – June 20: Mountaineers Always Freemen". Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  9. ^ "A State of Convenience: The Creation of West Virginia, Chapter Twelve, Reorganized Government of Virginia Approves Separation". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  10. ^ "The Polish Occupation. Czechoslovakia was, of course, mutilated not only by Germany. Poland and Hungary also each asked for their share." Hubert Ripka Munich, Before and After: A Fully Documented Czechoslovak Account [1]
  11. ^ Davies, p. 101
  12. ^ Samuel Leonard Sharp: Poland, White Eagle on a Red Field
  13. ^ Norman Davies: God's Playground [2]
  14. ^ Debates of the Senate of the Dominion of Canada

Further readingEdit

  • Sambanis, Nicholas, and Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl. "What's in a line? Is partition a solution to civil war?." International Security 34.2 (2009): 82–118.
  • Berg, Eiki. "Re-examining sovereignty claims in changing territorialities: reflections from ‘Kosovo Syndrome’." Geopolitics 14.2 (2009): 219-234.
  • Fearon, James D. "Separatist wars, partition, and world order." Security Studies 13.4 (2004): 394–415.
  • Downes, Alexander B. "More Borders, Less Conflict? Partition as a Solution to Ethnic Civil Wars." SAIS Review of International Affairs 26.1 (2006): 49–61.
  • Kumar, Radha. "Settling Partition Hostilities: Lessons Learned, Options Ahead." The Fate of the Nation-state (2004): 247.
  • O'Leary, Brendan. "Debating partition: justifications and critiques." Revised version of portion of a paper presented at final conference of the Mapping frontiers, plotting pathways: routes to north–south cooperation in a divided island programme, City Hotel, Armagh, 19–20 January 2006. University College Dublin. Institute for British-Irish Studies, 2006.
  • Horowitz, Michael C., Alex Weisiger, and Carter Johnson. "The limits to partition." International Security 33.4 (2009): 203–210.
  • Kumar, Radha. "The Partition Debate: Colonialism Revisited or New Policies?." The Brown Journal of World Affairs 7.1 (2000): 3–11.