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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically-grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems.
Research Assistant and Coordinator of the Future of the Island of Ireland Series

Iona graduated with a First class BA (Hons) in History from the University of Cambridge (Queens’ College) in June 2022. Her final year dissertation ‘Irish and Indian Influences on Colonial Policing in Mandate Palestine c. 1922-1939’ won the Council for British Research in the Levant’s 2022 prize for Best Undergraduate Dissertation on Contemporary Levantine Studies. She is currently working on Dr Niamh Gallagher’s ‘Future of the Island of Ireland’ series.

John Freeman

John Freeman has recently completed his PhD studies at the University of Cambridge, in the faculty of history. His research focuses on the Duchy of Courland, a small early modern polity in the Eastern Baltic, and its attempts to establish outposts in Africa and the Caribbean during the seventeenth century. The study connects the Baltic and Atlantic spaces by comparing the concept of the colonial in these two areas, whilst also investigating the particular contexts informing interaction during Courland’s period of attempted expansion. Previously, John completed his MA at the School for Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London. There he wrote on the dispute at the League of Nations over the control of Vilnius in the early 1920s and the use of history by the Polish and Lithuanian delegations. At Cambridge, John has taught on the topics of pre-1914 global history and oceanic historical approaches.

Sophia RC Johnson photo
Co-chair of the Protestant Political Thought Project

Sophia R.C. Johnson is a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Divinity, specialising in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Her PhD research traces the historical development of the conception of “covenant” in the biblical books of 1 & 2 Samuel to show how subsequent interpretation of the text was influenced by the ever-changing political landscape of the ancient Israelite community. She completed her MPhil in Cambridge on the ancient Near Eastern legal background of the oath between the biblical figures of David and Jonathan. She also studied ancient history and archeology at Jerusalem University College in Israel.

Sophia is especially interested in the relationship between ideas about covenant, state, and national identity in relation to the reception history of Old Testament narratives. She is guest-editor for the Journal of the Bible and its Reception towards a special issue “Old Testament Imaginaries of the Nation in German, Dutch, and Anglo-American Political Thought” (forthcoming 2021). She co-chairs the Miqra Society, the Hebrew Bible graduate research seminar, and acts as the Old Testament representative for the Divinity Faculty Anti-Racism Working Group.


Takahiro is a first-year PhD student at Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge. His PhD dissertation ‘Oligarchy in Motion: Dirty Politics in Clean Energy Transitions in Indonesia’ examines why and how ‘coal oligarchs’ in Indonesia who have benefited from fossil fuel industries shifted their institutional paradigm to renewable energy resources. Takahiro has also been working on nationalism and inter-nationalism in Southeast Asia. His recent work on youth nationalism between East Timorese and Indonesians won the Pattana Kitiarsa Prize for Best Graduate Student Paper by Southeast Asia Council at Association for Asia Studies in 2020 and published from Indonesia journal at Cornell University’s Southeast Asia Programme. Before moving to Cambridge, Takahiro has engaged in policy research on emerging technologies and economic security for the Japanese Cabinet Office, as well as worked for infrastructure business for South and Southeast Asia in Japan. Taka completed BA at Kansai University and MA in Osaka University (Valedictorian) both in Japan and holds MSc. in Comparative Politics from London School of Economics and Political Science. 

Smiling woman with short black hair wearing a white top and black leather jacket.

Pavi is a final-year PhD student at the Department of History, SOAS, University of London. Her thesis, titled ‘Information and Political Discourse in the British Reoccupation of Burma 1945-1948,’  focuses on the circulation and control of political discourses from the end of World War II until the eve of Burmese independence in January 1948. Her PhD research topic is a product of a long interest in modern mainland Southeast Asian history. She previously undertook an MPhil in World History, University of Cambridge on the history of Sino-Burmese relations and Burmese anti-communist policy during the Cold War. Pavi received her Bachelor degree in History/Asian Studies from Bowdoin College in the United States. 

From 2020-2021, Pavi was the co-chair of the London Burma Reading Group with worldwide scholarly audiences. She has organised several panel discussions that brought together experts from academia, government, and non-profit sectors to address contemporary issues in modern-day Myanmar and mainland Southeast Asia. Her article Solidarity Trial – Community Struggles in Myanmar’s Response to COVID-19 is available as a book chapter in LSE’s series: Southeast Asia: Insights for a Post-Pandemic World.

Pavi has a keen interest in grassroots politics, national minorities, and ethnic conflict resolutions, informed by her participation in research projects on the Mekong region and fieldwork in Thailand northern/western border. In the future, she plans to expand her research direction to cross-border focus and policy implementation aspects of mainland Southeast Asia in the context of Asia-Pacific.

Alisa Santikarn

Alisa recently completed her PhD in the Archaeology Department/Cambridge Heritage Research Centre. Her thesis, titled ‘The Last Elephant Catchers: (In)Visible Indigenous Heritage in Thailand’, examines the relationship between environmental policy and the endangerment of Indigenous traditions, working with the Kui community in Northeast Thailand.

Alisa obtained a First-Class BA (Hons) in Human, Social and Political Science and an MPhil in Archaeological Heritage and Museums, both from the University of Cambridge. Before commencing her PhD, she interned with the United Nations Development Programme in Thailand and has continued to consult for environmental and development organisations in the region.

Smiling man with black hair and glasses, wearing a grey shirt and tan jacket.

Xiang Wei is a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of History, Cambridge, researching the interactions between religious co-existence and Scottish military experience, c. 1707-1763. This project aims to introduce the themes and approaches of religious and ecclesiastical history into the ‘New Military History’ and ‘War and Society’ studies, and in so doing, shed more light on broader issues of Protestant political theology, clerical conception of European geopolitics, and religious war and peace in the eighteenth century.

Previously, Xiang completed his BA at Peking University, Beijing (2015-19) before moving to Cambridge for an MPhil in Early Modern History (2019-20). He co-convenes the Cambridge Workshop for the Early Modern Period for the 2021-2 academic year.