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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically-grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems.
Director of the Westphalia for the Middle East project

Ali Ansari is Director of the Westphalia for the Middle East project at the Centre for Geopolitics, and the Professor in Modern History with reference to the Middle East at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where he is also the founding director of the Institute for Iranian Studies. He is Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI and currently AHRC/ESRC Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the FCO. Professor Ansari is a regular contributor to the international media on political developments in Iran, and has widely published on the history of Iran.

Dr Michael  Axworthy
Founding Director of the Westphalia for the Middle East project

Dr Michael Axworthy (26 September 1962 - 16 March 2019) was the founding director of the 'A Westphalia for the Middle East' project at the Forum on Geopolitics.
Michael was a historian of Iran, and published widely on this subject, in the form of both important books and articles. He was also a frequent contributor to print and broadcast media. His books include The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant; Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran; Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic; Iran: what everyone needs to know; and as editor, Crisis, collapse, militarism and civil war: the history and historiography of 18th century Iran.
After years at the FCO, including two years as head of the Iran section, he switched to an academic career, teaching Middle East history at Durham and Exeter, where he became Director of the Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies. In 2017 he was a Visiting Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and in the following year became a Senior Research Associate at that college. From late 2015 onwards he launched the Westphalia for the Middle East project at the Forum on Geopolitics, together with Prof. Brendan Simms and Dr Patrick Milton, and remained a crucial intellectual and practical driving force behind that undertaking, co-writing the project’s chief output, the book Towards a Westphalia for the Middle East at the end of 2018.

Barry Colfer
Research Fellow, St Edmund’s College and the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

Barry is a Research Fellow at St Edmund’s College and the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). His research interests include: the implications of Brexit for Ireland, the politics of European integration and the future of work. Barry holds a PhD from POLIS and has held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Oxford, Harvard University and the Polytechnic University of Turin.

In 2021-2022 Barry will hold a prestigious Max Weber postdoctoral fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, where he will undertake research into the state of European social democracy. Barry has worked previously at Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament), at the European Parliament and with a range of leading think-tanks.

Senior University Lecturer

John Nilsson-Wright (formerly Swenson-Wright) is senior university lecturer at Cambridge University and an official fellow at Darwin College; he also is concurrently senior research fellow for Northeast Asia and Korea Foundation Korea Fellow with the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House. He was head of the Chatham House Asia Programme from March 2014 to October 2016 and is a graduate of Christ Church and St. Antony’s College, Oxford and SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on Cold War history focusing on US-Japan alliance ties, and the contemporary international relations and politics of Northeast Asia, with reference to Japan and the Koreas. In his policy work, he focuses on regional security and the changing nature of alliance relations in East Asia, and at Chatham House he coordinates a project on Korea’s regional and global role, having recently completed a similar study on UK-Japan relations.  He is currently writing a monograph on populism and identity politics as a contemporary and historical phenomenon in both Europe and Northeast Asia.

 Timothy   Less
Lead Researcher, Disintegration in Europe
Member of Darwin College

Timothy Less is the lead researcher at the Centre for Geopolitics’ project on Disintegration Studies. His research focuses on the breakdown of the existing political order in Europe, the forces driving this process and the new political order. He is currently launching a programme of research into the Balkans as the current settlement in the region comes under growing stress. This builds on his doctoral research into the question of Bosnia’s survival as a state.

Outside CfG, Tim works as a consultant specialising in the politics of eastern Europe and speaks and writes frequently on European politics in the media. Prior to this, he spent a decade working as an analyst, diplomat and policymaker at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office where, among other things, he ran the British Embassy Office in Banja Luka (Bosnia) and the EU Institutions department in London. He is also a former lecturer in Eastern European Politics at the University of Kent and a former risk analyst for the financial sector.

Naosuke Mukoyama
Research Fellow, Wolfson College

Naosuke Mukoyama is a Research Fellow at Wolfson College and the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). He examines questions regarding state formation, politics of natural resources, territory and borders, and colonial legacies from historical and comparative perspectives, primarily focusing on the Middle East and East/Southeast Asia. His first book project investigates the historical relationship between natural resources, especially oil, and the creation of new states through decolonization. He received his DPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford after receiving undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Tokyo. 

 Suzanne   Raine
Affiliated Lecturer, Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University

Suzanne Raine is an Affiliate Lecturer at the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University. She served for 24 years in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on foreign policy and national security issues.  This included postings in Poland, Iraq and Pakistan.  She specialised in counter-terrorism, holding a number of senior domestic appointments including Head of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre from 2015-2017 and was  a senior member of the UK government assessment community.  She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Imperial War Museum and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). 

Surabhi Ranganathan
Senior Lecturer in International Law
Deputy Director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law
Fellow of King‘s College

Surabhi Ranganathan is a University Senior Lecturer in International Law, Deputy Director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, and a Fellow of King‘s College, at the University of Cambridge. She is also a fellow of the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance (C-EENRG).

Her research on the oceans, the history and politics of international law, treaties, and global governance has been published in leading journals including the European Journal of International Law, the British Yearbook of International Law, the American Journal of International Law and the Journal of the History of International Law. Ranganathan is also the author of a monograph, Strategically Created Treaty Conflicts and the Politics of International Law (Cambridge University Press), that was featured as an EJIL Editor's Choice for 2015. 

Ranganathan was a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute, Geneva for spring 2020, and has been invited as a Global Professor at NYU School of Law. She has been a visiting fellow at the Center for History and Economics, Harvard, the Centre for Asian Legal Studies, National University Singapore, and has been invited as a fellow to the Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin. Her editorial roles include the Leiden Journal of International Law, European Journal of International Law and Cambridge Law Journal, and previously, the British Yearbook of International Law. 

Visiting Scholar, POLIS, Centre for Geopolitics

Christian Schultheiss is a visiting scholar at the Centre for Geopolitics. His research interests include the maritime disputes in the East and South China Sea, conflict resolution, international law and security in the Indo-Pacific. He has regional in-depth experience from various academic and think tank positions in East and Southeast Asia. He published peer-reviewed articles on various aspects of the East and South China Sea disputes. He is a regular policy advisor to international organisations and states on maritime disputes in the East and South China Sea, maritime security in the Indo-Pacific and the Mediterranean Sea. He completed a PhD program at the University of Cambridge. His thesis presents an analysis of the three-decades long negotiation processes between China, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and ASEAN countries on resource-sharing and security arrangements in the East and South China Sea.