Misplaced states and the politics of regional identity: towards a theoretical framework

Wali Aslam, Leslie Wehner, Kei Koga, Janis van der Westhuizen, Cameron G. Thies, Feliciano de Sá Guimarães

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Whilst there is no shortage of analyses on the politics of regions in International Relations, little attention has been paid to states who perceive that they do not properly fit in the regions they happen to be located in. These are the ‘misplaced states’: they stand out not so much because of material capacities but because they espouse an identity, manifested in different ways, in marked contrast to the states around them. This article asks what causes this process of a change in identity amongst misplaced states in different parts of the world. Comparing across regions, it analyses why and how states reconstruct their identities in order to enhance or deemphasise their degrees of regional conformity. By focusing on the ‘role-location process’ rooted in role theory, this article contributes to the literature by conceptualising the phenomenon of ‘misplacement.’ A state is misplaced when there is mismatch between its aspirations and others’ expectations for it. The article also details how and why misplacement occurs and studies its implications both for the states in question as well as for the politics of their geographical regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-526
Number of pages22
JournalCambridge Review of International Affairs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 3 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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