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School of Government & International Affairs


Dr Christopher Davidson, BA & MA (Cambridge); MLitt & PhD (St. Andrews); FHEA

Personal web page

Associate Professor (Reader) in Middle East Politics in the School of Government and International Affairs
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 45676
Room number: IM210, Al-Qasimi Building

(email at

Before coming to Durham, Christopher was an assistant professor at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates and a visiting associate professor at Kyoto University in Japan. Currently, he is also an associate fellow of the Royal United Services Institute, a visiting fellow at Leiden University College, and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He holds degrees from the University of Cambridge (BA, MA), and the University of St. Andrews (M.Litt, PhD).

He has published six single-authored books, two edited volumes, and a number of scholarly journal articles and chapters in other edited collections. His 2013 book, After the Sheikhs (New York: Oxford University Press), was translated into both Arabic and Farsi and was reviewed by the Guardian, the Independent, and the Economist. His new book, Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East, is based on four years of archival work (declassified files, leaked correspondences, and court subpoenaed documents) and interviews with former intelligence officials. It was published in October 2016 and selected for both the Cambridge Literary Festival and the FT Weekend's Oxford Literary Festival. Early reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Al-Akhbar review in Arabic.

He is the principal investigator on a three year-long project, employing a full-time postdoctoral researcher. He has supervised nine doctorates to completion, with his advisees having taken up postdoctoral fellowships at Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania ("UPenn"), University of Tubingen, Exeter University, and Durham University (in Government and Geography departments); and assistant professorships at Kings College London and Qatar University. He has externally examined a number of doctorates internationally across a range of universities including Australian National University, Tel Aviv, Oxford, St. Andrews, Leeds, Exeter, the London School of Economics, and Queens University Belfast.

He has taught full-time for fourteen years in higher education and has convened a number of modules, including Politics of the Oil Monarchies, Middle East in the International System, Introduction to Middle East Politics, and (at his previous institution) Global Studies, State and Society, and Methodology in the Social Sciences. In 2014 he was runner-up in the Durham Student Union teacher of the year award (for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law). 

He has held a number of departmental management portfolios, inter alia, acting deputy head of school, director of undergraduate studies, director of postgraduate studies (both taught and research), and senior admissions tutor.

He has served as an expert witness on more than a dozen occasions, with his evidence having played a leading role in determining the outcome of Britain's longest running extradition case. His legal work formed the basis of a REF2014 impact case study. In 2016 he gave oral evidence on Britain's Middle East policy to the House of Lords International Relations Committee.

He has delivered a number of invited guest lectures at universities around the world (usually 60 minute presentations followed by 30 minute Q&A sessions). These include Stanford, Yale, George Washington, Sciences-Po in Paris, Kyoto, Otago, Amsterdam, American University of Beirut, Sciences-Po, Oxford, LSE, SOAS, St. Andrews, Exeter, Leeds, Bath, and Aberdeen.

In addition to academic work, he has also published with the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Guardian, the Times Higher Education, and BBC Online. In Arabic, his articles have been published by a number of newspapers, with his September 2009 article for Al-Akhbar, 'The Great Dubai Crash / انهيار دبي الكبير', credited with predicting the November 2009 Dubai crash.

He has delivered briefings and prepared reports for a range of organizations and institutions including NATO Intelligence, GCHQ, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Foreign Services Institute (US), the New Zealand intelligence services, the New Zealand and Netherlands Ministries for Foreign Affairs, British Petroleum, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

He tweets on Middle East politics, international security, intelligence, and other related issues at @dr_davidson 

His professional website is

Google Scholar profile

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article


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