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Meet Professor Clive Jones

Meet Professor Clive Jones, Professor of Regional Security in the School of Government and International Affairs, and Director, Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (IMEIS).

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Tell us about your role within your department:

I direct the activities of IMEIS, one of the oldest institutes for the study of the Middle East and North Africa in the United Kingdom. Durham University has an immensely proud and rich traditions in the teaching and research of the Middle east. While located in SGIA, the institute is eclectic in its disciplinary approaches to the study of the region, providing a hub for all those across the University whose research or teaching interests touch on the study of the MENA region  and political Islam.

Alongside a visiting speakers programme, we hold an annual PGR/ECR conference on a dedicated;  host the annual Ambassador’s Lecture where former and serving diplomats from the Middle East give an insight into policy-making; organise the annual Sir William Luce lecture where an elected fellow gives a public lecture on an issue related to either Sudan or the Gulf states, and publish the Durham Middle East Papers, refereed research papers of 8-10,000 words in length.  

What first attracted you to your chosen field of expertise?

The Middle East was the first region I travelled  to outside of Europe and I was hooked. I spent a great deal of time in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories, an experience which stood me in particularly good stead when I later conducted field work in the region for my PhD thesis. Later research projects have taken me to Syria, Yemen, the Gulf monarchies as well as Tunisia and Morocco. The fascination for the people, its sites, history, politics and culture has never left me.  

What is your favourite subject to teach and why?

I have been fortunate to be able to teach on a range of course, form generic courses on international relations  and international history, to modules dealing specifically with the Israel/Palestine conflict and Middle East security. Given the time I have spent in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories, the teaching of Israeli politics and the Israel-Palestine conflict must remain by pedagogic highlight. Contentious politics is always difficult to teach, but that is no reason not to teach this subject. That is the challenge and one that I have very much enjoyed.  

What can students expect from their first few weeks on your course?  For students, it will very much be an immersive experience. We understand students coming to Durham will have had a diverse exposure to and understanding of the region. Our core module is designed to ensure that very quickly, all students will acquire a solid foundation in the history and politics of the MENA region, with a particular focus on religion, competing national and religious identities, and the contentious nature of the state ands state legitimacy that remains core to understanding the regional shifts that are now being played out.

Students will also be given an overview of IMEIS and the events we organise throughout the year and encouraged to become part of a thriving academic community with the study of the Middle East at its heart. Durham University is one of the best researched HEIs in Europe for the study of the Middle East, and we are keen to show students the wealth of material and expertise  that they will have at their disposal.  

What do you think makes your department unique?

IMEIS has broad strengths across a range of disciplinary activities, notably in International Relations, Comparative Politics, Area Studies (East Asia, Europe, North America as well as the MENA region) as well as a range of methodological approaches that  allow students to pursue a range of intellectual and scholarly interests that are perhaps unrivalled by our competitor institutes. Regarding IMEIS, we are the only institute or centre for the study of the MENA region which offers expertise in all the Arab and non-Arab states of the region, as well as thematic expertise in Political Islam, political economy, migration and diaspora, as well as regional security politics.

Our staff are not only innovative in their respective fields, but actively engage with policymakers and policymaking, advising government actors, NGOs and the private sector, as well as engaging with local, national and international media outlets. Ask most academics in the social sciences and humanities what Durham University is well known for, and they often reply: Middle Eastern studies.  

What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying your course?

The course is intensive, and we push our students to be the best they can be. If you are up for the intellectual challenge then  you will be rewarded with an immersive experience in the politics, history and culture of the region which will be second to none. So, take the challenge!  

What have your students gone on to do after graduating from Durham? 

Students have gone on to work in Government, the Armed Forces, journalism, NGOs, the Third Sector,  and the private sector (international banking). Others have gone on to study for PhDs and become the next generation of academics, may of them continuing at Durham to  research and write their PhD theses.  

Find out more about MA Politics and International Relations of the Middle East