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Professor Simon Mabon

Professor of International Politics

Simon Mabon

County South



Tel: +44 1524 594253

Research overview

My work falls at the intersection of Middle East Studies, International Relations and (International) Polital Theory. I am particularly interested in sovereignty and its discontents, space, and nomos, along with the empirical manifestations of these issues. I am Director of SEPAD, funded by Carnegie Corporation and The Henry Luce Foundation.

Broadly speaking I am interested in the following areas

  • Sovereignty 
  • The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran and its impact on regional politics
  • Nomos
  • Sectarianism
  • De-sectarianization
  • 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

My research is comprised of two main strands: The first is the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran where I am particularly interested in the nature of the rivalry, its impact on states, identities and communities across the Middle East (and beyond), and the re-ordering of space. The second is the contestation of sovereign power across the region, where I am interested in relations between rulers and ruled, biopolitics, resistance, and the Arab Uprisings.  

My latest book, Houses built on sand: Violence, sectarianism and revolution in the Middle East (Manchester University Press, 2020) was listed by Choice as an academic book of the year. An open access version is here.

PhD supervision

I am interested in supervising projects on the following areas: sectarianism, sovereignty, nomos, the state, desectarianization, space, and urban politics.

Current Teaching

Additional Information

I am Director of the Richardson Institute, based here at Lancaster, where I work to facilitate knowledge exchange and engagement with a wide range of civil society actors, both in the UK and internationally. The Richardson Institute is the institutional home of SEPAD, which has helped create a space for discussions about the contestation of sectarian identities, states and geopolitics in the Middle East. I am also the host of SEPADPod, a podcast series talking with academics working on the Middle East about their work.

I  regularly appear on international media outlets and have discussed international affairs and Middle Eastern politics with BBC News, BBC World, CNN, Al Jazeera CNBC, Sky News, ABC Australia, TRT Turkey, France24, Russia Today, Deutsche Welle, Al Arabiya, BBC 5 live, LBC, BBC local affiliates, Radio Luxembourg, ABC Australia, CBC Canada, KFPA - California, and Newstalk ZB, New Zealand. 

I served as Academic Advisor to the House of Lords International Relations Committee inquiry into the UK relations with the Middle East during the 2016-17 academic year. The full report is available here.

I have been invited to speak about my research at a number of international events including at the United Nations, the European Parliament, Harvard University, University of Chicago, DePaul University, NorthWestern, Brookings Institute, GeorgeTown University Doha, the University of St Andrews, King's College London, the University of Leeds, the University of Aarhus, An Najah University Palestine, and many others. 

I am a regular tweeter (@profmabon), avid snowboarder, Arsenal fan, and musician. 

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