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April 9, 2014 - In brief

Secession in Europe: From Czecho-Slovakia's 'Velvet Divorce' to the Scottish and Crimean Referenda

Round table / discussion with the participation of:

James Krapfl, Department of History and Classical Studies, McGill University

Brian Lewis, Department of History and Classical Studies, McGill University

Marina Swoboda, McGill University



Europeans may remember 2014 as the year of the referendum. Last month, Crimeans unexpectedly voted to secede from Ukraine and (re)unite with Russia. In September, Scots will vote on whether to terminate the 300-year old
United Kingdom. Catalans are demanding a referendum on secession from Spain, and in a non-binding straw poll, Venetians have recently voted for independence. In several of these cases, the peaceful split of Czechoslovakia has been invoked as a model for managing state break-up, yet the "Velvet Divorce" of Czechs from Slovaks in 1992 can be read as both instruction manual and cautionary tale. What light can history shed on the referenda of 2014? What has made secession a question across the European continent, and what can we expect from the future based on knowledge of the past? Three McGill historians will address these and other questions in a roundtable on Apr. 9.


McGill University
Room 217, Maass building
801 Sherbrooke street West
Montreal, H3A 0B8


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