Separatism is often connected to the post-Soviet space, but our speaker says they're quite connected to separatist movements in Spain, Italy and other parts of the western half of the continent. They have permanent meetings, conferences, cooperation projects, horizontal linkages, trade unions, NGOs, political communities, you name it.
And this all goes unseen – public life and academia, or at least official public life and academia, doesn't take these links into account and so misses the point entirely when it comes to these places. It so happens that the price of missing the point, these days, is getting steeper and steeper.
Realism was a school of thought I encountered while doing a program at PRIO
(the Peace Research Institute Oslo) this summer – it's a way of looking at things through the lens of nation states. Think traditional borders, the context of a country as a whole. And the reality of unrecognized territories slips right through all that.
The speaker refers to a theory (new to me, so maybe I'll repeat it wrong) called world system analysis, and it contrasts realism in the sense that it defines nations in terms of their relationships to each other. It goes into the reality of inequality in the post-colonial world, and some states come off somewhat more on top than other ones. These are the 'core' states (think the USA, Germany, the UK, and they are surrounded by unstable, periphery states that depend on the core in political, economic and often cultural terms (Tajikistan, Laos, Sudan). There are in-between spaces called 'semi-core' (Iran, Turkey, Brazil – Russia and China until recently) that try to get closer to the core while fending off their periphery tendencies.
Then there are states that don't buy into the world order generally, like North Korea, or Cuba/Eritrea until recently. Then there are the counter-systemic movements that try to break down the system or don't play by the rules. Think ISIS.
Then there's something our speaker calls the radical periphery and its here where we find our six unrecognized territories. They're even more vulnerable to instability and oversight, depending on their individual contexts. And the commitment that 'core' countries have to maintaining that each is still part of their parent country often makes them quite ignored in practice.
And why does it matter?
Because, for Minakov, it gives the impression that the core is this strong monolith (the West, mostly) but it also has its fractures. That, and in these six territories there are four million Europeans living. Ten years ago there was just one million. In ten years it could be more. They matter because people matter. Which is why people study them.
But how do people study them?