Recognition of sovereignty provides the means by which states have their independence and sovereignty formalized. In cases of secessionist conflict, the decision to grant or withhold recognition of a new state is forced upon the international system, unlike cases that deal with decolonization or internationally imposed partition. Recognition therefore provides a means by which members of the international system can curate the potential international membership from a set of new secessionist states. A central feature of this curatorial function is that it does not proceed evenly, multilaterally, or simultaneously across all cases. Instead, curation proceeds along hegemonic lines in a Gramscian sense: recognition is granted by great powers that lead particular hegemonic systems in an effort to expand their images of social order to new states. These fractures are expressed clearly in cases of split or contested recognition. The paper proceeds from a discussion of secession since the end of the Cold War, then assesses the input of contemporary literature, and ends with the suggestion of curation as a new means to understand the dynamics of international recognition.