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"Misplaced States and the Politics of Regional Identities"

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HSS Conference Room (HSS-05-57)

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Whilst there is no shortage of analyses on the politics of regions in International Relations, very little attention has been paid to states who perceive that they do not properly fit in the region they happen to be located in. These states ‘stand out’ not so much on the basis of material capacities – but more importantly – because they espouse an identity – manifested in different forms – in marked contrast to the states around them. The primary question that this research will aim to answer will ask: what causes this process of identity-switching amongst states in different regions of the world? Comparing across regions, this research analyses why and how states reconstruct their identities in order to enhance or deemphasise their degree of regional conformity. By examining a series of diverse cases that cut across the conventional developed/developing state divide this project conceptualizes the phenomenon of ‘misplacement’: how and why it occurs and what are its implications. Through country-expert case study analyses of Pakistan, South Africa, Chile, Japan, Israel and Brazil, we aim to develop the notion of ‘misplacement’ into an analytical tool of enquiry in order to show why these states’ governments and societies feel less ‘connected’ to their regions and/or why certain states seek greater or lesser regional assimilation and aspiration.

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