Declarations of independence after the Cold War: abandoning grievance and avoiding rupture

Argyro Kartsonaki, Aleksandar Pavković

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Declarations of Independence (DoIs) tend to employ the grievance topoi as a means to legitimize their demands for statehood. We find, however, that after the end of the Cold War a new subgenre of DoIs emerged, which deploys topoi not referring to grievances against the host state. These DoIs focus on commitments the secessionist state makes towards existing states. We analyse four DoIs, that of Slovenia, Croatia, Abkhazia, and Kosovo using Wodak et al.'s Critical Discourse Analysis and Wendt's categorization of state identity. Our findings show that these secessionist states pledge to adhere to the internationally recognized norms of democracy, rule of law, and human rights and put forward a discourse of “belonging” to a family of states defined by these norms. They call therefore for international recognition based on their commitment to socialization avoiding the rupture with the host state and the issue of breach of territorial integrity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1268-1285
Number of pages18
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number4
Early online date7 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (Grant ES/M009211/1 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Nations and Nationalism published by Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • commitment topos
  • Declarations of Independence
  • grievance topos
  • international recognition
  • unilateral secession


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