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Professor Jeroen Gunning

Professor Jeroen Gunning

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Professor of Middle Eastern Politics and Conflict Studies

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Jeroen Gunning is Professor of Middle Eastern Politics and Conflict Studies in the Department of Political Economy and at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies at King's College London. He is Visiting Professor at the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, and at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics. He obtained his PhD from the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Durham University, and was a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford University. Before coming to King’s College London, he was Founding Director of the Durham Global Security Institute at Durham University. He is one of the founders of the field of critical terrorism studies and has taught and advised both policy-makers and civil society organisations.


  • Political mobilisation and contestation in the Middle East (esp. using social movement theory)
  • Causes, patterns and effects of political violence (state and non-state)
  • Geographies of everyday peace and security practices
  • State effects and the everyday state in the Middle East
  • Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt

Professor Gunning's research is situated at the interface between Middle Eastern Studies and theories of political contestation and conflict, drawing on a wide variety of disciplines including sociology, anthropology, political science, international relations, and critical security studies. His research focuses on political mobilisation with a specific focus on the interplay between Islamist social movements, religion, political contestation, democratisation and violence (both state and non-state) in the Middle East. He has advanced a dynamic interpretation of social movement theory, weaving together structural and agential analysis to explain political contestation and violence under occupation (Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence) and mass mobilisation in the context of authoritarian repression (Why Occupy a Square? People, Protests and Movements in the Egyptian Revolution, with Ilan Zvi Baron).

With the ‘Bringing in the Other Islamists’ (TOI) project, based at Aarhus University, he is exploring whether, and if so, how and why, Shia Islamism(s) differ from Sunni Islamism(s) and what implications this may have for our understanding of the interaction between religion, understood as encompassing beliefs, community and socio-material relations, and socio-economic-political context. With Dima Smaira (American University Beirut, Lebanon), he is working on developing an agential, spatialised analysis of everyday peace and security practices in Beirut’ Southern Suburbs, building on (and decolonising) Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice, and, together with Morten Valbjørn (Aarhus University), they are piloting a project comparing Sunni and Shia Geographies of Everyday Islamistness in Greater Beirut.

Research projects

2019-2024: TOI: Bringing in the Other Islamists - Comparing Arab Shia and Sunni Islamism(s) in a sectarianized Middle East (funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (£630k) – co-leads: Morten Valbjørn, Aarhus University, and Jeroen Gunning).

2022-2023: Comparing Sunni and Shia Geographies of Everyday Islamistness (funded by the Danish Institute in Damascus and the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University; co-leads: Jeroen Gunning, Dima Smaira, American University in Beirut, and Morten Valbjørn, Aarhus University)

2022-2024: ‘Generational Afterlives of Martyrdom: Care, Inheritance and Turbulence between Religiosity and Militancy’ (funded by SISR-ISSR, Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, and TOI; co-leads: Sana Chavoshian, Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, Younes Saramifar, Vrije Universiteit, and Jeroen Gunning)

Teaching (currently on research buyout)

PhD Supervision

Professor Gunning welcomes PhD applications concerned with political mobilisation and contestation, political violence (whether state or non-state, including domestic and international counter-terrorism regimes), the role of religion and secular ideologies in contestation and political violence, the everyday state and everyday peace and security practices in the Middle East, particularly with reference to Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt.