Balkanization is a geopolitical term originally used to describe the process of fragmentation or division of a region or state into smaller regions or states that are often hostile or non-cooperative with each other. [ [http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/balkanized Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary] "1. to break up (as a region or group) into smaller and often hostile units."] [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/14/AR2007011401141.html?nav=rss_print/asection "Officers Look Back For Clues To Future] ", [http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/email/sudarsan+raghavan/ Sudarsan Raghavan] , Washington Post, Monday, January 15, 2007, page A01.] The term has arisen from the conflicts in the 20th century
Balkans. The first balkanization was embodied in the Balkan Wars, and the term was reaffirmed in the Yugoslav wars. The amount of "Yugoslavian" territory officially controlled by Belgrade has been reduced piece by piece since 1991.
The term is also used to describe other forms of disintegration, including, for instance, the subdivision of the
Internetbeing divided into separate enclaves [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/37e74f38-7a19-11dd-bb93-000077b07658.html?nclick_check=1] , and the breakdown of cooperative arrangements due to the rise of independent competitive entities engaged in "beggar-thy-neighbor" bidding wars. Balkanization is sometimes used to refer to the divergence over time of programming languagesand data file formats (particularly XML). The term has been used in American urban planning to describe the process of creating gated communities.
There are also attempts to use the term "balkanization" in a positive way equating it with the need for sustenance of a group or society. Current research on the positive aspects of Balkanization is carried out by Srđan Jovanović Weiss with Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College.
The term has also been used by conservative gay rights activist
Andrew Sullivan. He referred to civil unions as adding to the "cultural balkanization that already plagues American public life." [ [http://www.indegayforum.org/news/show/26937.html Independent Gay Forum - Andrew Sullivan , "Why 'Civil Union' Isn't Marriage"] ] In January 2007, regarding a rise in support for Scottish independence, Gordon Browntalked of a "Balkanisation of Britain". [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6258089.stm|title=BBC News | Politics |UK's existence is at risk - Brown|date= 13 January, 2007]
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