Christopher Hale and David Siroky, “Inside Irredentism: A Global Empirical Analysis.” Journal Article

Christopher Hale (University of Alabama) and David Siroky (Arizona State University)

American Journal of Political Science (Volume 61; Number 1. Pages 117-128. 2017)


Although many countries have ethnic kin on the “wrong side” of their borders, few seek to annex foreign territories on the basis of ethnicity. This article examines why some states pursue irredentism, whereas others exhibit restraint. It focuses on the triadic structure of the kin group in the irredentist state, its coethnic enclave, and the host state, and provides new data on all actual and potential irredentist cases from 1946 to 2014. The results indicate that irredentism is more likely when the kin group is near economic parity with other groups in its own state, which results in status inconsistency and engenders grievances. It is also more likely in more ethnically homogeneous countries with winner-take-all majoritarian systems where the kin group does not need to moderate its policy to win elections by attracting other groups. These conditions generate both the grievance and opportunity for kin groups to pursue irredentism.