Personal profile

Research interests

I am Senior Lecturer in Global Religious Studies at the University of Bristol. I work on the history and politics of Global Islam and the wider Middle East. I have published widely on confessional relations in Islam and the politics of the Middle East, with a focus on the Gulf Region. My research often involves multi-archival work and fieldwork, and the use of primary sources, including in Arabic. My first book, Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab Spring That Wasn’t (Stanford University Press, 2013), analysed the impact of the Arab Spring on the Gulf States. My second book, The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism (Cambridge University Press, 2015) dealt with the relationship between Shia Muslims and the Saudi state and was based on fieldwork in Saudi Arabia and hitherto unused Arabic archives. My latest book, The Caliph and the Imam: The Making of Sunnism and Shiism, a global history of Sunni-Shii relations, is published by Oxford University Press in 2023. Moving chronologically, the book outlines how over the centuries Sunnism and Shiism became Islam’s two main branches. Connecting South Asia and the Middle East, it reveals how Muslim Empires and colonial rule institutionalised sectarian divisions and how the 1979 revolution in Iran and the 2003 Iraq War sectarianised politics. Future research interests relate to the role of religion in international affairs, especially during the Cold War.


Teaching information

My teaching, which builds on my research interests, addresses the history and politics of Global Islam and the wider Middle East.


Research Supervision

I welcome enquiries from students wishing to pursue research in the areas of the history and politics of Islam and the wider Middle East and the role of religion in politics and international affairs. I am especially interested in supervising students working on Sunni-Shii relations, and the politics of religion in the Gulf region and the Middle East.


Other information


From 2021 to 2023 I was a Marie Curie Global Fellow at Stanford University and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, leading a project on Sunni-Shii Relations in the Middle East. From 2015-2020, I was Senior Research Fellow in the International Relations of the Middle East at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. I was previously a Research Fellow at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge and a Research Officer at the LSE. I received my PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.


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