About me

I am Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Lancaster University where I am also Director of the Richardson Institute. I joined Lancaster in the summer of 2012 having completed my PhD at the University of Leeds earlier that year. My PhD looked at the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran after the revolution of 1979 and became my first book, published by I.B. Tauris in 2013. A paperback version was published two years later.

My work falls somewhere within the intersection of Middle East Studies and (International) Political Theory. I am particularly interested in sovereignty, space, and nomos. Putting such concepts to work, I direct the SEPAD project which explores the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran and how it shapes the Middle East in a project funded by the Carnegie Corporation.

Broadly speaking I am interested in the following areas

  • Sovereignty
  • Saudi – Iranian rivalry
  • The nomos
  • Sectarianism
  • Political Islam(s)
  • The Arab Uprisings
  • Resistance
  • Religion in political structures
  • Regime-society relations
  • International Political Theory and its application to the Middle East, particularly the work of Giorgio Agamben and Hannah Arendt

I am currently working on two book projects: The first, Houses Built On Sand (forthcoming with Manchester University Press) explores the fragmentation of state-society relations in the post Arab Uprisings Middle East using the ideas of Giorgio Agamben and Hannah Arendt. It traces the development of political projects from the end of the Treaty of Versailles to the military defeat of Da’ish, suggesting that states are forged through the interaction of myriad pressures of a domestic, regional and international nature. It argues that the Arab Uprisings should not be viewed as an a historic phenomenon, rather, they emerged as a consequence of decades of political marginalization and resistance.

The second, The Struggle For Supremacy (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press) looks at the impact of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran across the Middle East. It uses ideas from Political Geography, in particular Doreen Massey’s spatial concepts, to trace the interaction of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran on local contexts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. Both books combine theory with primary data gained from fieldwork across the Middle East.

In 2012 I was offered a Research Fellowship with the Foreign Policy Centre, a London based think tank and I continue to engage with the FPC. At Lancaster I teach on a range of courses, including: Introduction to Peace Studies, Exploring the Persian Gulf, Politics and International Relations in the Contemporary World, and The Foreign Policies of Contending Powers. I have also taught on a MA Research Methods course.

A great deal of my time at Lancaster has been spent supervising PhD students, which is a particularly enjoyable part of the job. I have supervised theses in areas including: Political Islam; Sectarianism; Bahraini politics; Saudi-Iranian relations; Critical Geopolitics; Settler groups; Pakistan and the English School; Iranian Foreign Policy; Iranian Nationalism; Kurdish nationalism; Palestinians in East Jerusalem; the work of Giorgio Agamben; and a number of other areas. I am interested in supervising PhD students in areas related to my research interests.

In 2016-17 I served as academic advisor to the House of Lords International Relations Committee on their inquiry into British relations with the Middle East. You can see the report here. I have given talks to a range of political organisations including the UN, the European Parliament, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office. I have given lectures at a range of academic institutions including at Harvard University, Oxford University, George Mason University, GeorgeTown University Doha, the University of St Andrews, the University of Aarhus, King’s College London, the University of Leeds, An Najah University, The People’s College (Nanded, Maharastra, India) amongst many others.

I regularly comment on international news stories for outlets including: BBC, Sky, CNN, CNBC, Al Jazeera, France 24, Deutsche Welle, TRT, LBC, ABC, CBC, Newstalk ZB, Al Arabiyyah, i24, Russia Today and a number of others. I have also written a range of pieces for international news platforms which are available to view on the other publications page.

I am an avid Arsenal fan and try to get to games as often as I can with my wife Swarnalatha, who loves them as much as I do! I am a keen musician and have played gigs across the country.