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Toby Matthiessen

I am a Historian and Political Scientist with a focus on the Middle East and Global Islam. I am currently a Marie Curie Global Fellow at Stanford University and Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, leading a project on Sunni-Shii Relations in the Middle East. In the fall of 2023 I am joining the University of Bristol as Senior Lecturer in Global Religious Studies/Global Islam. My research often involves archival work and fieldwork. I am the author of several books, which have won numerous prizes. 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, and their attempt to undermine the Arab Spring. My second book, The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism (Cambridge University Press, 2015) dealt with the relationship between Saudi Shia and the state since the early 20th century and was based on fieldwork in Saudi Arabia and hitherto unused Arabic archives. My new 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. Other research interests relate to the history of International Relations and the Cold War.

From 2015-2020, I was Senior Research Fellow in the International Relations of the Middle East at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, teaching courses on the International Relations of the Middle East, the Politics of the Middle East, and the History and Society of the Gulf States. I remain an Associate Member of Oxford University’s Department of Politics and International Relations. I was previously a Research Fellow at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge and a Research Officer at the LSE and have been a guest lecturer and visiting fellow at Universities in Europe, the Middle East, the United States and Australia. My doctoral dissertation from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London was awarded the Aaron Wildavsky Award for the Best Dissertation on Religion and Politics by the American Political Science Association (APSA). I have published in major peer-reviewed journals and have experience in outreach and policy engagement. I have also published in the media and have commented on current affairs, including for major TV and radio networks.