Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2018

Academic Department

Politics, Philosophy, and Legal Studies

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. E. Fletcher McClellan


Recent eruptions of ethnic-sponsored conflict throughout the international community have reintroduced the once-discredited concept of irredentism in foreign affairs, and underlined the importance of evaluating the evolution of ethnic conflict in the 21st century. As ethnic movements continually devolve into civil wars, violent stalemates, and icy regional tensions, scholars and world leaders alike must ask: is irredentism a beneficial and effective policy option? Why do some nations with prominent diasporas refrain from engaging in irredentism? What are the factors that enable or inhibit the successful execution of irredentist aims?

This research analyzes two case studies—Russia-Crimea and Greece-Macedonia—in an effort to identify prominent factors that enable or prevent successful irredentism. The two variations of evolution—an aggressive takeover and a low-tension rhetorical stalemate, respectively—offer a unique platform for understanding the internal and regional factors that influence the composition of irredentist conflict and exploring the significances and consequences of such action on both the homeland and regional neighbors.


Senior thesis.