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Personal profile

Biography

Tom is an international relations scholar, focusing on the contemporary politics of the Middle East. He specialises in the Saudi-Iranian "Cold War", the war in Yemen, and the Iranian women's movement. Underpinning his work is a desire to raise awareness of the war in Yemen and to unpick why the world knows so little about the world's worst humanitarian crisis. His research focuses on notions of security and securitisation, humanitarian aid, sectarian identity, social media, and visuality as a form of discourse.

In his 2022 article, "How to analyze visual propaganda in the Middle East", he provides a new method for social scientists, to help make sense of visuality. He calls this "Visual Discourse Tracing". 

In his 2023 article, "Securitisation imperatives and the exaggeration of Iranian involvement with the Houthi movement by international actors", he details the various ways Saudi Arabia and the US have deployed particular narratives to justify extraordinary measures in Yemen.

Tom contributed a chapter to the edited volume, China, Russia, and the United States in the Middle East: The Contest for Supremacy. His chapter is entitled "The Forgotten War: multipolar support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen". This book is part of Jonathan Fulton's Routledge series "Changing Dynamics in Asia-Middle East Relations", and was co-edited by Benjamin Houghton and Kasia Houghton.

He is currently leading the MA module at Northumbria, "Theorising International Relations, Conflict, and Security". As well as teaching at Northumbria University, Tom holds a position at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he teaches International History since 1945 and International Political Thought. His teaching interests are guided by a desire to change the Euro-American-centric focus of international relations, considering a much wider diversity of sources. He believes strongly in the importance of interactive, empathic teaching as a guiding principle.

Before joining Northumbria University in 2023, Tom completed his PhD at the University of Durham. His PhD thesis was entitled - The Iranian-Saudi Rivalry: Prolonging the War in Yemen. External Actors, Securitisation, Sectarianisation, and Digital Media. 

During his time at Durham, he taught 18 groups of undergraduate students in political theory and international relations. Tom also worked as the 'external talks' chair and organiser for the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, for which he won the 2022 Student Employee of the Year award. Stemming from a conference he organised in this role, he co-edited a Special Section that was released with Global Policy.

In 2022, Tom conducted extensive research as part of a large project on the Middle East led by Professor Clive Jones and Professor Rory Miller.

Tom has previously designed an entire course, based on his PhD, during his time working with The Brilliant Club. This charity seeks to rectify educational inequality in the UK - a cause to which Tom is deeply committed. 

Research interests

  • Yemen
  • The War in Yemen
  • The Iranian women's movement (especially following the death of Mahsa Amini in 2022)
  • The Iranian-Saudi Rivalry
  • Sectarian Identity in the Middle East
  • Disinformation
  • Social Media as a tool of power politics
  • Social Media as a site of social protest
  • Visuality in international relations and the social sciences
  • Music as a tool of social protest
  • Securitisation Theory
  • Ontological Security
  • Sportwashing (particularly in the case of Saudi Arabia)
  • Humanitarian aid
  • The law of blockades
  • International multipolarity and its manifestation in the Middle East
  • Western relations with Saudi Arabia
  • Iran since the Islamic Revolution
  • The Houthi Movement
  • Informal Alliances
  • Postcolonial theory, race, and experiences of suffering

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

International Politics, PhD, The Iranian-Saudi Rivalry: Prolonging the War in Yemen: External Actors, Securitisation, Sectarianisation, and Digital Media, Durham University

Award Date: 29 Sept 2023

International Politics, MA, International Relations, Durham University

Award Date: 16 Jan 2019

International Politics, BA, Philosophy and Politics, Durham University

Award Date: 21 Jun 2017

External positions

The London School of Economics and Political Science

1 Aug 2021 → …

Durham University

1 Oct 202030 May 2022

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