Ian Nelson

Submitted by on Sep 10, 2015



After taking a BA (Hons) in Social Policy and Administration, and an MA in International Relations, both at The University of Nottingham, I completed a PhD at Durham University (Ustinov College) in Government and International Affairs under the supervision of Professor Emma Murphy, in the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. My thesis explored the British New Labour Party’s foreign policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the period from 1994 to 2001.

Expertise summary

British, EU, and US foreign policy on the Middle East and North Africa, the modern history and politics of the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts in the context of regional and international relations. British history and politics, and transatlantic relations.

I am currently the module convenor of ‘Socialism: The Everyday Life’, and undertake some of the seminars for the module ‘Understanding Global Relations’ that provides an overview of world politics and international relations theory. In the 2015-16 academic year I will be the convenor of ‘Understanding Global Relations’ and of the new undergraduate and postgraduate module ‘History and Politics of the Modern Middle East’.

Before moving to China, I taught at The University of Nottingham (1998-2012), first in the School of Adult and Continuing Education, then in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, and from 2005, in the Institute for Middle Eastern Studies (IMES), School of Humanities. My undergraduate and postgraduate teaching covered modules in history and politics, including ‘Nazism and Fascism in Europe’, ‘Religion, Identity and Conflict in the Middle East’, and ‘The Middle East: Historical Background and Contemporary Challenges’.

Academic duties

During the academic year 2015-16 I will serve as Deputy Director of Teaching and Postgraduate Exams Officer for the School of International Studies.

Research interests

My on-going research interests include British, EU, and US foreign policy towards the Arab-Israeli conflict generally, and the Israeli-Palestinian question more specifically. The primary focus is the party-political, transnational, regional and international decision and policy-making mechanisms. I am also looking at the legacies of European imperialism and colonialism in shaping the geographical boundaries of the Middle Eastern region, and the complex character of the factors influencing many of the contemporary political issues. In connection with these interests, I am especially attracted by the political and theoretical writing of C.L.R. James, Frantz Fanon, Albert Camus, and Amos Oz.

I am developing a new research interest in the foreign policy of China towards the Middle East and North Africa, in particular the diplomatic principles underpinning the efforts of Beijing towards the nuclear non-proliferation negotiations and peace making. A chief aim is to shed further light on the reasons for the absence of China from a series of peace initiatives, including the Camp David summit of 1978, the Madrid Conference (1991), the Oslo Accords (1993), and more recently, the international Quartet for the Middle East (comprising the EU, Russia, the UN, and the US) in the build-up to, and background of, the Iraq War (2003).

Selected conferences and invited papers/lectures

‘Shall the Twain Meet. When East looks West to the Middle East (West Asia)’, Invited paper at the conference A New Agenda? Debating the Middle East and Central Asia. Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra, 3-4 July 2015.

‘Christianity, Political Zionism and the Holy Land: The British Labour Party from Keir Hardie to Tony Blair and Beyond?’ Research paper presented at the Study Day on Religious Conflict, The University of Nottingham, 18 June 2008.

‘The Nature of Relations: New Labour, Israel and the “Question of Palestine” 1994-2001’, paper presented at the Joint International Conference of the European Association for Middle Eastern Studies and the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, Renaissance, Representation and Identity in the Middle East. Durham University, 12-16 September 2005.


Nelson, Ian. ‘The First New Labour Government’s Foreign Policy-Making towards the Israeli-Palestinian Question: the Formative Years, 1997-1999’, Contemporary British History. Vol. 28, No. 2, June 2014, pp. 121-144, DOI: 10.1080/13619462.2014.893408.

Nelson, Ian. ‘The Middle East’, International Encyclopedia of Social Policy. Volume 2, Routledge, 2006 (Hardback), pp. 857-860, 2010 (Paperback), pp.854-860.

Additional experiences and information

(2011) Invited participant in the Joint Academia-Foreign and Commonwealth Office Initiative Workshop on New Research Agendas for the Middle East. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London (12 September 2011).

(2004-2006) The University of Nottingham representative on the Jewish-Muslim Forum, a Nottingham community-based group established to promote understanding, contacts, and interfaith dialogue.

(2004) BBC3 Television, ‘Conflicts: Israel and the Palestinians’ (subject specialist).

(2003) Discussion document, ‘A Feasibility Study and Analysis regarding the establishment of a Middle Eastern Studies Facility at Nottingham University,’ commissioned by Professor Fiona Broughton Pipkin, Chair of the Middle Eastern Studies Strategy Group, The University of Nottingham.

(1993) At the invitation of Professor James A. Graff (University of Toronto), I attended the Seventh United Nations European Non-Government Organisations Symposium, and the Tenth United Nations International NGO meeting on the Question of Palestine, Vienna, Austria, 23-24 August 1993, and contributed towards writing the Final Declaration Document (Fifth Draft) adopted by the United Nations.

Ian NelsonIan Nelson
Ian NelsonIan Nelson
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