There are numerous regions where movements for sovereignty or independence are seen as serious alternatives to the status quo. Quebec, Scotland, Catalonia, and Flanders have followed a generally non-violent, political process, while movements in Kashmir, the Basque Country, Chechnya, and Kurdistan have led to militancy or civil war. Secessionism is the first work to examine why secessionist struggles occur and why some of them become violent, while offering constructive suggestions for keeping the peace in contested regions. Using innovative methods to analyze both advanced democracies and developing countries, Jason Sorens shows how central governments can alleviate or increase ethnic minority demands for regional autonomy. He argues that when countries treat secession as negotiable and provide legal paths to pursuing it rather than absolutely prohibiting independence, violence is far less likely. Additionally, independence movements encourage government policies of decentralization that may be beneficial to regional minorities.