This introductory chapter provides an overview of homelands and explains how transformations in the area included in the homeland come about. Contractions in the area included in what counts as the homeland occur as a result of a process rooted in domestic political competition. New, more modest, understandings of the homeland, where they are associated with domestic political success, displace more expansive ones. Over time, land left out of these understandings loses its status as part of the homeland. Such contractions in the area considered part of the homeland, in turn, are critical for parsing the variation in territorial partitions' ability to resolve conflict. Partitions work—that is, they resolve existing conflict without leading to further irredentist conflict—when the parts of the homeland that remain on the other side of the new border cease to be seen as appropriately part of the homeland. This book details the role of homelands in international conflict, providing systematic, comparable data about the homeland status of lost territory over time and bridging the gap between constructivist theories of nationalism and quantitative empirical analyses of international relations.
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