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  The geopolitical fragmentation of a larger polity into increasingly smaller units that are hostile to one another (cf. geopolitics). The concept originates with the so-called nineteenth-century Balkan \'Great Game\'. It involved both local states and continental powers in a geopolitical rivalry that became more global in its geopolitical implications, eventually plunging Europe into a world war and leading to the subsequent fragmentation of both the Ottoman and Hapsburg Empires. Contemporary analogies have been made with the break-up of post-1990 Yugoslavia and its ensuing civil and regional wars and with rival geopolitical interests in post-Soviet Transcaucasia. The term has also been used more loosely as a political metaphor to describe the disintegration of geopolitical alliances following the end of the Cold War and the possible fragmentation of polities into smaller territorial parts as a result of local demands for autonomy (cf. self-determination). (GES)

Suggested Reading Denitch, B. 1994: Ethnic nationalism. The tragic death of Yugoslavia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Mestrovic, S. 1994: The Balkanization of the West. The consequences of postmodernism and postcommunism. London and New York: Routledge.



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