Secessionist groups, if they are to achieve their goal of independence, require both domestic and international support, although neither is easy to obtain. One strategy that such groups may pursue is the use of their identity to gain support both at home and abroad. What causes leaders of a secessionist movement to focus on one identity over another and why do these identities change over time? How much flexibility do elites have in making these choices? This article explores the ways in which latent identities simultaneously constrain and empower secessionist groups in achieving their political ambitions. We argue that the leaders of such groups engage in 'dentity layering' to achieve statehood for their region. Two cases, the Eritrean and Macedonian secessionist movements, are used to illustrate both the logic of identity layering and the dilemmas it entails. The central argument is that the configuration of constraints in each case largely determines the identities that are selected and layered onto the group in question. The use of such identities may also generate resistance - from within the secessionist entity or from outside - which in turn creates incentives for identity change. This analysis shows, first, that territorial identities (as opposed to ethnic or ideological ones) tend to serve as the group's primary mobilizational base, and second, that domestic imperatives weigh more heavily than international pressures in determining the success of these choices. Copyright
Security Studies

Saideman, S.M, Dougherty, B.K. (Beth K.), & Jenne, E.K. (Erin K.). (2005). Dilemmas of divorce: How secessionist identities cut both ways. Security Studies, 14(4), 607–636. doi:10.1080/09636410500468800