New grant will allow the peace project to expand its reach

A Lancaster University-based center that aims to trace religious tensions in Middle Eastern politics has secured a third round of funding to continue its work.

SEPAD (the Sectarianism, Proxies and De-Sectarianization Project) based at Lancaster University’s Richardson Institute for Peace Studies, secured $500,000 in funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Running through June 2025, this project builds on findings from previous grants with the aim of better understanding the complex interplay between religious groups and states.

The project is led by SEPAD Director and Professor of International Politics in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, Professor Simon Mabon, and Deputy Director, Dr Edward Wastnidge, of the Open University.

In recent years, a large amount of literature has been produced on sectarianism in the Middle East, although mainly focused on Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

To deepen these debates, this project explores intergroup relations – both positive and negative – in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and Israel/Palestine, seeking to push the boundaries of existing research.

Such work will be of interest to policy makers, civil society activists, scholars, students, journalists and the general public seeking to better understand bigotry in the Middle East.

Professor Mabon said: “We are extremely excited to continue our work on bigotry and regional politics with wonderful academics around the world.

Dr Wastnidge added: “This extension both broadens our scope and deepens our focus on new and existing areas of research and we look forward to getting started.”

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