African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 389

Full Length Research Paper

Bridging research across the subfields of international relations and comparative politics: The case of a secessionist movement in Southern Sudan

David P. Thomas
Politics & International Relations, Mount Allison University 144 Main Street, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada. 
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 12 October 2010
  •  Published: 28 February 2011


This article demonstrates the potential for rigorous and systematic bridging research across the subfields of comparative politics and international relations. Examining the issue of secessionist movements and a detailed case study of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), the article contends that understanding both ‘domestic’ and ‘international’ issues are crucial for such a study. In the case of Sudan, it is found that external forces significantly influenced the direction of the secessionist movement and the conflict itself. In particular, the paper documents the involvement of Kenya, Egypt, the United States of America, Multinational Corporations extracting oil and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) concerned with human rights violations. The article concludes by asserting that it is imperative to incorporate tools of analysis from both subfields in order to comprehensively understand and explain the case study at hand and international issues such as secession more broadly.


Key words: Secession, Sudan, civil conflict, comparative politics, international relations.