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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically-grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems.
David Cowan

David Cowan is a first year PhD student at the Faculty of History, specialising in British political history during the long eighteenth-century. His research examines the development of the identities and ideologies of political parties in Cambridge University and how they responded to international crises from the Jacobite Rising in 1745 through to the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. David is interested in how political thought, political practice, and foreign policy influence each other over time. Previously, he read History as an undergraduate at Cambridge and continued to complete his MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History. After graduating, David worked in journalism and in the UK Parliament as a researcher and staffer


John Freeman is a third year PhD student at the University of Cambridge, studying in the history faculty. 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 aims to connect 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.

Naman Habtom

Naman Habtom is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of History, specialising in contemporary history. His research examines Sweden’s relationship to the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990’s across multiple domains, including diplomatic relations, military deployments, and refugee flows. The study aims to discover the impact of a conflict on the periphery of one side of the European continent on a country on the other side while also seeking to explore Swedish policymaking in the context of the conflict, which occurred not only after the end of the Cold War but also as the country joined the European Union. Before that, he read History as an undergraduate at Cambridge and stayed for the MPhil in Modern European history. Outside of his research, he is the co-founder and serves as the managing editor of Manara Magazine, a Middle East and North Africa-focused digital publication.

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.

Alisa Santikarn

Alisa is a final year PhD candidate 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/development organisations in the region.

Elvira Tamus

Elvira Tamus is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of History, Cambridge, working on Franco-Hungarian diplomatic relations in the context of the Valois-Habsburg-Ottoman rivalries in the first half of the sixteenth century. She is interested in late medieval and early modern European political, diplomatic and religious history - with a particular focus on the later crusades, and Christian-Muslim encounters in Central Europe and the Mediterranean.

Elvira obtained her BA degree in History and French from the University of Leicester with academic prizes in Medieval History and in the area of Holocaust and related studies (2019), and her MA degree in Medieval and Early Modern History at Leiden University (2020). In 2021, she was a Research Intern at the Institute of History, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, co-edited Carnival: Journal of the International Students of History Association, and co-organised the Oxbridge postgraduate colloquium 'Cross-Cultural Entanglements, 1200-1600'. In 2021-2022, she is a Co-Convenor of the Cambridge Workshop for the Early Modern Period, and a Postgraduate Mentor in the History Faculty Transition and Induction Programme.

Jonathan Yeung

Jonathan is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, specialising in modern Sino-Japanese history. His research wrestles with the 50,000+ students from China who studied in Japan between 1896 and 1945, their encounters with Japanese society, and what this study-abroad movement meant for Sino-Japanese relations both then and now. More broadly, Jonathan is interested in the themes of cultural exchange, studying abroad, movement of ideas across borders, post-WWII reconciliation between China and Japan, and the rise of China. He is also passionate about the history of Hong Kong, where he is from. 

Prior to Cambridge, Jonathan graduated with an MPhil and a BA from the University of Oxford. He is currently a recipient of a Sasakawa Japanese Studies Postgraduate Studentship. Jonathan also leads undergraduate seminars and supervisions at Cambridge on modern Japanese History.