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How an Entity Becomes a State: Tibet, Taiwan, Palestine, and the Quest for Recognition

Stokes, DaShanne (2016) How an Entity Becomes a State: Tibet, Taiwan, Palestine, and the Quest for Recognition. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The question, “Why are some entities politically recognized as states while others are not?” is central to the conflicts faced by the peoples of Tibet, Taiwan, and Palestine, and indeed the entire world. It is a question whose answer defines the contours of the international arena and helps to decide the rights, obligations, and fates of people everywhere. Despite the plethora of research on the state, however, little is known about how the political recognition of states may operate as part of a larger international recognition structure. Such unknowns raise questions about the outcomes faced by entities like Tibet, Taiwan, and Palestine. Why, for example, have Tibet, Taiwan, and Palestine achieved the varying levels of political recognition that they have? How and why did opportunities to politically recognize Tibet (1913), Taiwan (1971), and Palestine (1948, 1988, and 2012) as states emerge when they did? And is there any validity to claims that there have been “missed opportunities” for Tibet, Taiwan, and Palestine to have been politically recognized as states?
I address these questions using original comparative-historical data to conceptualize the “opportunity structure for recognition” as an overarching framework by which to synthesize the theory and practice of recognizing states and would-be states. In this way, recognition or non-recognition are more than the outcome of the complex interactions between states, would-be states, the international system, and the sometimes-competing, sometimes-aligning interests and goals of each. I argue that “opportunities for recognition” tend to emerge during times when political opportunities and state interests are in strong alignment, favoring an entity’s political recognition as a state. The patronage of strong states can be a critical factor in the emergence and success of opportunities for recognition, but such patronage is not strictly necessary or sufficient to generate opportunities for recognition or for those opportunities to result in widespread recognition. Additionally, the study finds that claims about missed opportunities for recognizing Tibet, Taiwan, and Palestine are without merit.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Stokes, DaShannedps26@pitt.eduDPS26
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBamyeh,
Committee MemberBlee,
Committee MemberMarkoff,
Committee MemberMorgenstern,
Date: 15 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 March 2016
Approval Date: 15 June 2016
Submission Date: 10 March 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 256
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: political recognition, diplomatic recognition, Tibet, Taiwan, Palestine
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2016 20:28
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:32


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