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Photo of Professor Gareth Stansfield

Professor Gareth Stansfield

BA (Hons.), MA, PhD (Durham), FRSA, FAcSS

Al-Qasimi Professor of Arab Gulf Studies, Professor of Middle East Politics and Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor, College of Social Sciences and International Studies


01392 724105


Gareth Stansfield is Professor of Middle East Politics and the Al-Qasimi Chair of Arab Gulf Studies at the University of Exeter, where he was between 2010-2015 the Director of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS), standing down for research leave between 2015 and 2019.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS), and elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS).

He is also a Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services
Institute (RUSI), Global Fellow (2015-17) of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC, Fellow of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, a Visiting Professor of Northwest University, Xi'an, China, a Visiting Professor of Soran University and Sabis University, Erbil (Kurdistan-Iraq), and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania's Program on Ethnic Conflict. Between 2002 and 2012, he was Associate Fellow of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House. From 2012-14, he was the inaugural Honorary Research Fellow attached to the Middle East and North Africa Research Group of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office A regular commentator and adviser on Middle East politics over the last decade, focusing in particular on the politics and political economy of Iraq, the Kurdish regions of the Middle East, dynamics of Gulf/Arabian peninsular security, and questions of postconflict stabilization and nation/state building, Stansfield is one of a handful of academics to have lived and worked in pre-regime change Iraq for an extensive period of time, between 1996 and 2001, where he was funded by the UK government to advise the Kurdish leadership. He has considerable fieldwork experience in a range of countries in the Middle East and Islamic World, including Iraq, Syria, the Kurdish regions, Morocco, the states of the Gulf, and more recently Afghanistan.

He has engaged extensively with the policy-making community. He is currently theDirector of Middle East Studies and Senior Associate Fellow of RUSI, and before that was Associate Fellow with special reference to Iraq, Kurdistan, and the Gulf, of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) between 2002 and 2012. He was part of UK (MoD) horizon-scanning initiatives on Iraq and Libya; and he was invited by ISAF to visit Afghanistan to research the reintegration process. In 2009, he served as a Senior Political Adviser to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), with special reference to the situation in Kirkuk and Iraq's disputed territories, and has advised several private sector companies on their activities in Iraq. He also is a member of the Command Advisory Group (CAG) of the UK Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ). During his career at Exeter, he has held research grants from the ESRC, Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, the British Council, and the United States Institute for Peace.

Professor Stansfield is on ESRC-funded research leave: current project website. He can be contacted through his University email address.

Office Hours Mondays during term 2 10am - 12pm. 


Executive Assistant: Aida Allise Percival (
Tel: (0044) 01392 723193

Full CV is available here.

Research supervision

Some of the current PhD research topics that I am currently supervising are:

  • Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” strategy: the end of oil economy?
  • Towards Constructing A Post Arab Spring GCC Security Model
  • Incomplete Democratisation: The Evolution of Kurdish Politics 1992-2013
  • Foreign Policy Analysis & Inter-State Dynamics: Riyadh, Washington, Tehran, and the Race for Regional Order.
  • Why did armed revolution of Iraqi Kurdistan lead to the political outcome of today?
  • An evolution of cross-border, multi-party cooperation in Kurdish politics from the 1890s to the present.
  • The Gulf Cooperation Council after 2011: redefining national security and rethinking threat analysis.
  • The Emergence of Iraqi Kurdistan post-2010: the regional, domestic, economic and international factors that contributed to it and the impact on regional security
  • The foreign policies, of Iran, Israel and Turkey towards Northern Iraq and their influences on the future of the Middle East.
  • U.S. Foreign Policy and the Construction of Ethno-sectarian Politics in Iraq
  • Global Oil Markets, Shi'a Protagonists and a Case Study of Iraq
  • The Last-Century’s Ethno-Nationalist Movement of The Iranian Kurds
  • The construction of a Zaza indentity in Bingol (Cewlik), Turkey, 1923-2010.

Previous PhD research topics Indclude:

  • To what extent have the prominent Kurdish political parties in the struggle for dominance over the liberation movement of Kurdistan been successful and what are the factors of shifting strategy so often?
  • Emerging foreign policy trends of Kurdish Quasi-state in Iraq.
  • Weapons, Cash, and Interests: An Analysis of UK Foreign Policy Towards Iraq, 1979 to 2001.
  • From Blueprint to Genocide? An Analysis of Iraq's Sequenced Crimes of Genocide Committed Against the Kurds of Iraq
  • Memories of violence in Cyprus: conflicting perspectives and dynamics of reconciliation
  • An Arabian Approach to Politics: Environment, Tradition and Leadership in the United Arab Emirates
  • Representation, Civil War and Humanitarian Intervention: the International Politics of Naming Algerian Violence, 1992 - 2002
  • Over-stating the Unrecognised State? Reconsidering De Facto Independent Entities in the International System
  • The Terrorism Complex
  • An International Relations Analysis of Citizenship and Intercultural Dialogue among Minority Youth in Berlin and London: A Levels-of-Analysis Approach
  • Deconstructing Ethnic Conflict and Sovereignty in Explanatory International Relations: The Case of Iraqi Kurdistan and the PKK
  • Changing Ethnic Boundaries: Politics and Identity in Bolivia, 2000-2010
  • An International Relations Analysis of Citizenship and Intercultural Dialogue among Minority Youth in Berlin and London: A Levels-of-Analysis Approach
  • Throwing Water Over the Tinderbox - An Alternative for Kirkuk
  • Gender Equality and Development After Violent Conflicts: The Effects of Gender Policies in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
  • Turkey's First Participatory Constitution-Making Attempt and its Reflections on Ethnic and Religious Communities
  • Reactive Nationalism in a Homogenizing State: The Kurdish Nationalism Movement in Ba'thist Iraq, 1963 - 2003
  • Ethno-Nationalism in a De Facto State: an Investigation of National Identity among University Students in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq


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