Rethinking Territorial Autonomy

Event details

PSC Seminar

Date & time

Friday 15 November 2019


PSC Reading Room 4.27, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Shane J. Barter


Maxine McArthur

Territorial Autonomy, in which regionally concentrated minorities gain the ability to govern their territory with special administrative powers, represents an important political compromise in all corners of the world. It is increasingly the go-to option for overcoming separatist conflicts and protecting minority rights, enabling national minorities to see themselves as majorities and to develop their national identity. Autonomy is found in all corners of the world, featuring a staggering array of political, economic, and sociocultural powers granted to minority nations. Despite its prominence, territorial autonomy as a political institution has been undertheorized. Despite being a form of decentralization, autonomous regions tend to be highly centralized. Despite supporting minority rights and overcoming conflicts, autonomous regions tend to encourage assimilation and stoke tensions with local, second-order minorities. Drawing from a variety of global cases, this presentation seeks to better understand autonomy as well as note room for improvement, especially regarding the treatment of minorities living within autonomous regions, demanding that we rethink territorial autonomy.

About the Speaker
Dr Shane Barter, Associate Professor at Soka University of America, is currently a Visiting Scholar with the Indonesia Project and the Department of Political and Social Change, Coral Bell School, College of Asia and the Pacific. He teaches in International Studies, and has worked for Asian Human Rights NGOs (Forum Asia),the Carter Center, the Canadian Government, the European Union, and recently completed a term as the Director of the Pacific Basin Research Center. His research and teaching interests are related to politics in Southeast Asia, armed conflict, state and society, democratization, and religious politics.

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