Professor Simon Mabon

Professor of International Politics

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, the Sectarianism, Proxies and De-Sectarianization Project, funded by Carnegie Corporation, which looks at the way in which the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is shaping sectarianism and politics across the Middle East. It also explores the contestation of sectarian identities in what we have termed de-sectarianization.

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.

This current phase of research will produce two single authored monographs. The first, Houses built on sand: Violence, sectarianism and revolution in the Middle East will be published by Manchester University Press in early 2020. The second, The Struggle for Supremacy: Saudi Arabia and Iran will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2021.

Houses built on sand: Sectarianism in Bahrain
Invited talk

Houses built on sand: Violence, sectarianism and revolution in the Middle East. Book launch
Invited talk

Saudi Arabia and Iran: De-Escalation in the Middle East
Invited talk

Sectarian Games: Sovereign Power, War Machines and Regional Order in the Middle East
Invited talk

Exploring Desectarianization
Participation in conference

SEPAD Policy maker roundtable
Participation in workshop, seminar, course

SEPAD Policy workshop
Participation in workshop, seminar, course

The Saudi-Iranian Struggle for Supremacy & the Future of the Middle East
Invited talk

Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Contemporary Middle East
Invited talk

The Struggle for Supremacy
Invited talk

Sectarianism in the Wake of the Arab Revolts
Participation in workshop, seminar, course

SEPAD Report Launch
Public Lecture/ Debate/Seminar

Saudi Arabia and Iran: The Struggle to Shape the Middle East
Public Lecture/ Debate/Seminar

The Struggle For Supremacy: Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Contemporary Middle East
Invited talk

The Struggle For Supremacy: Saudi Arabia, Iran and Religious Soft Power
Invited talk

The Struggle for Supremacy: Saudi Arabia in the Contemporary Middle East
Invited talk

The Struggle For Supremacy
Invited talk

Saudi Arabia and Iran: Rivalry and Fragmentation after the Arab Uprisings
Invited talk

The Struggle For Supremacy
Invited talk

Houses Built On Sand
Invited talk

Saudi Arabia as a 'Middle Power'
Invited talk

The Apocalyptic and the Sectarian
Invited talk

Understanding ISIS
Invited talk

Saudi Arabia, Iran and Geopolitical Change in the Middle East
Invited talk

Understanding the Middle East: Should the West Intervene?
Participation in workshop, seminar, course

  • Richardson Institute for Peace Studies