> Balkanization > Definition and Description > > If globalization is the increasing interconnectedness of peoples and > places through converging processes of economic

, political, and > cultural change, then balkanization is a counteraction to the > integrating and homogenizing effects of globalization. > > Whereas globalization acts as connective mechanism, in the form of > overarching global capitalism, balkanization is sometimes referred to > as "globalization" from below. That is to say, global interconnections > have played a role in reviving group identities and thus, have > ironically contributed to fragmentation and separation. In this way, > balkanization and national separatist movements are the > counter-effects or counter-trends of globalization\u2019s promise of > meta-homogenization. > > "Balkanization" is a term that has emerged in response to small-scale > independence movements and the increasing trend of mini-nationalisms > (or micronationalisms), as they occur along ethnic, cultural and > religious fault lines. The term generally describes the process of > geopolitical fragmentation, and is used to depict any kind of > political dissolution across the world. The term has also expanded to > connote a varied tableau of scenarios involving disintegration, such > as "the balkanization of the Internet". >

> Taking its name from the divisive and conflict-ridden Balkan region of > Europe, balkanization has come to refer to any region in the world > faced with internal turmoil and schisms. Although the 1991 dissolution > of the Soviet Union into fifteen countries has been referred to as > "the balkanization of the U.S.S.R.," balkanization finds its roots in > the Balkan region of the former Yugoslavia, which is often cited as > the "powder keg" of Europe. Certainly, the very words, Balkanization > and the Balkans, conjure up images of violence, destruction, genocide > and dissension. Indeed, this part of the world has produced these > kinds of unfortunate occurrences, from the period of both World Wars > to the post-Cold War era. > > History > > The "Cold War" between the two superpowers, the United States and the > former Soviet Union, may be an artifact today, but in many sense, the > aftermath of the Cold War is what has fueled balkanization. With the > dissolution of the former Soviet Union in 1991 came opportunities for > self-determination and independence in eastern Europe and central > Asia.Ethnic, cultural and religious groups galvanized support through > this spirit of self-determination, resulting in fundamental changes in > economic, political, as well as cultural alignments and alliances, > most clearly exemplified by the emergence of new sovereign states. Yet > as the scenario in the Balkans has continued to unfold, the stories of > Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia suggest that although balkanization and

> nationalism has created new nation-states, stability in these places > can remain precarious. > > Causes and Conditions of Balkanization > > Civil unrest, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious tensions, > terrorism, factionalism and separatism have conjointly created a new > texture of political friction and anxiety in contemporary > society. Stated differently, micronationalism -- or ethnic, > linguistic, cultural and/or religious separatism -- is the major > source of geopolitical tension on the rise in the world today. > > Many analysts have suggested that ethnic, linguistic, cultural, > religious and national identities may persist within populations that > were presumed to have been homogenized. These varied identities may > re-emerge when certain political conditions are favorable (as in the > case of geopolitical instability across the Balkans), thus inciting > and catalyzing separatist movements. Other thinkers state that > religious freedom or increased democratization across the globe has > stimulated the growth of group identities with agendas of > self-rule. Still others observe that nationalism in one place spurs > nationalism elsewhere and certainly, it is true that Haiti, the first > independent Black state, emerged out of the French Revolution\u2019s > principles of liberty, fraternity and equality. > > Conceived of as "centrifugal" forces, separatist or balkanizing

> pressures act to undermine or divide the state, as they pull outward > and away from the center. Conversely, "centripetal" forces, such as a > shared historical legacy or a unitary economic system, function to > reinforce and augment political unity and the power of the > state. Balkanization occurs when the centrifugal forces outweigh the > centripetal forces within a state. > > Spotlight:The Former Federated Republic of Yugoslavia > > The history of the Balkans has been fraught with ethnic conflict as > well as wars of conquest. Once thought of as an ill-charted zone > separating Europe\u2019s civility from the chaotic maelstrom of the > Orient, in recent centuries, the area became a theater of intrigue for > the great international powers. Indeed, the region of the Balkans was > historically contested by the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires, as well as > the Third Reich and the Allies, all of whom exploited and exacerbated > existing tensions. > > Yet some international relations experts have suggested that the > collapse of Yugoslavia into nationalist regimes was not solely due to > ethnic conflict and religious discord, or even a history of animosity > for that matter. Rather, the disintegration of political and civil > order, in conjunction with economic problems, together contributed to > Yugoslavia\u2019s breakdown. Certainly the perspective seems to > bolster the argument that national movements and their ensuing

> balkanizing influences are not simply identity-based circumstances, > born out of clashes between historically-polarized majority and > minority groups, but also are exacerbated by economic and political > circumstances of the present. > > Other analysts suggest that during the rule of Yugoslavia by Tito in > the communist years, measures taken to decentralize the country\u2019s > decision making processes (rather than democratize the country) > ultimately led to the collapse. That is to say, decentralization bred > ethnic nationalism and fueled identity politics, while the lack of > real democratization efforts accelerated the increasing climate of > fragmentation. > > Regardless of the actual cause of balkanization in the former > Yugoslavia, the regions remains one of the most volatile in the world, > and functions as an ongoing exemplar of identity politics, > micronationalism and balkanization. > > Bibliographic References: > > Bogdan Denitch, Ethnic Nationalism: The Tragic Death of Yugoslavia > Dianna Johnstone,Seeing Yugoslavia Through a Dark Glass: Politics, > Media and the Ideology of Globalization > Misha Genny,The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1809 > 1999 > Les Rowntree, Martin Lewis, Marie Price and William Wyckoff,Diversity

> Amid Globalization: World Regions, Environment and Development > Susan Woodward,Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution After the Cold > War

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