Role Theory in the Middle East and North Africa: Politics, Economics and Identity, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Role Theory in the Middle East and North Africa

Politics, Economics and Identity, 1st Edition

By Yasemin Akbaba, Özgür Özdamar


160 pages

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pub: 2019-05-28
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Since December 2010, a series of uprisings, revolutions, coups and civil wars have shaken up the Middle East and North Africa region. In this chaotic political environment, several countries have been trying to influence this regional transformation. The implications of this transformation are of great importance for the region, its people and global politics.

Using a rich combination of primary and secondary sources, elite interviews, and content analysis, Yasemin Akbaba and Özgür Özdamar apply role theory to analyze ideational (e.g. identity, religion) and material (e.g. security, economy) sources of national role conceptions in Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The authors take a closer look at the transformation of these four powers’ foreign policies since the beginning of Arab uprisings, with a specific focus on religion. Each case study is written to a common template allowing for clear comparative analyses.

Written in a clear and accessible style, Role Theory in the Middle East and North Africa offers a thought provoking and pioneering insight on the usefulness of role theory in the developing world foreign policy making. The perfect combination of theoretically oriented and empirically rich analysis make this volume an ideal resource for scholars and researchers of International Relations, Foreign Policy, Middle East Politics, and International Security.

Table of Contents


Patrick James

1. Introduction: Ambitious Roles in a Transforming MENA

2. Role Theory and Sources of National Role Conceptions: Material and Ideational Factors

3. Egypt and Secular Nationalism after a Century

4. Iran and Shia Revolutionism

5. Saudi Arabia and Religious Conservatism

6. Turkey’s Liberal Offer

7. Conclusion

About the Author

Yasemin Akbaba is an associate professor at Gettysburg College. Her research focuses on role of religion in international relations and foreign policy analysis. She has authored/co-authored several journal articles that have appeared in Political Studies, JPR, Comparative European Politics, FPA, Politics and Religion, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Ethnopolitics, Civil Wars, International Interactions, Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, Politics, Religion & Ideology, and others. She had also received Gettysburg College’s Thompson Award for distinguished teaching.

Özgür Özdamar teaches at Bilkent University, Ankara. He has taught at different institutions, such as the University of Missouri-Columbia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, the Turkish Military Academy and the National Security College. Özdamar's research focuses on foreign policy analysis, IR theories and security studies. His articles were published in journals such as Political Research Quarterly, Foreign Policy Analysis, International Studies Review, Transforming Political Violence, Social Science Quarterly and Middle East Policy. He currently serves as editor of All Azimuth: Journal of Foreign Policy and Peace and on the editorial board of Foreign Policy Analysis journal.

About the Series

Role Theory and International Relations

Advisory Board: Marijke Breuning (University of North Texas), Sebastian Harnisch (University of Heidelberg), Valerie Hudson (Texas A & M University), Paul Kowert (Florida International University), Stephen G. Walker (Arizona State University).

The Role Theory and International Relations Series aspires to attract and publish the latest and best research integrating knowledge in the field of International Relations with role theory. This aspiration cuts across a wide swath of subfields, including foreign policy analysis, peace and security studies, international political economy, diplomatic studies, and international organization. While each of these subfields of study is presently organized as an "island of theory," this series intends to integrate their signature phenomena within a system of knowledge, a "theory complex" or an alliance among different subfields. This series showcases the ability of role theory to generate useful theoretical insights on its own or in combination with existing theories across these traditional subfields. Role theory’s conceptual repertoire, plus its ability to span multiple levels of analyses and the major meta-theoretical divides in the discipline position it to be an important integrative force in the study of International Relations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / Middle Eastern