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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, sectarianism, 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 
  • Saudi-Iranian relations
  • Sectarianism
  • De-sectarianization
  • Nomos
  • Order
  • The Arab Uprisings 
  • Religion and politics
  • Regime-society relations
  • International Political Theory and its application to the Middle East

My research interests are situated at the interplay of sectarianism, sovereignty and regional politics. I have published work that looks at these themes (collectively and individually) in leading Middle East studies and IR journals. 

My two most recent monographs looked at the interplay of these issues. The most recent, The Struggle for Supremacy in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia and Iran was published by Cambridge University Press in 2023. The second, Houses built on sand: Violence, sectarianism and revolution in the Middle East was published by Manchester University Press in 2020 and was listed by Choice as an academic book of the year. An open access version is here.

I am currently working on a book for Yale University Press on sectarianism in the Middle East. 

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 co-Director of the Richardson Institute, based 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 Palace of Westminster, 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 an avid snowboarder, Arsenal fan, and musician. 

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