Territoriality, Asymmetry, and Autonomy: Key Concepts, Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

  • Susan J. Henders


In recent years, the literature on territorial politics and decentralization has paid more attention to asymmetry in the distribution of territorial political authority within states (e.g., McGarry 2007a; 2007b; Conversi 2007; Ortino et al. 2005; Watts 2000; 1996; Keating 1999a; 1999b; Agranoff 1999b; de Villiers 1994; Elazar 1994; 1987; McGarry and O’Leary 1993; Coakley 1993). This interest has coincided with renewed attention to and to some minds greater legitimacy for ethnic and ethnonationalist mobilization and for minority autonomy arrangements in general. Yet, as this chapter makes clear, asymmetry and autonomy have been important to the actual f unctioning of polities f or a much longer period, both historically and in the contemporary state system. They have long been modalities of imperial rule and of state-building and state maintenance in both China and the democratic West. At the same time, minority territorial autonomy arrangements in general and special status arrangements in particular have been tensionwracked. This has been due to a number of factors, including the challenges they pose to the modern territorial state and citizenship model as understood in dominant versions of liberalism and Marxism.


Territorial Integrity Social Solidarity Citizenship Model Indirect Rule Imperial Rule 
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© Susan J. Henders 2010

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  • Susan J. Henders

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