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Assistant Professor In Politics and Islam in the School of Government and International AffairsRoom 201a, Al Qasimi Building+44 (0) 191 33 45672
Member of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies  


I am an Assistant Professor in Politics and Islam at the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham, where I work on the comparative politics of the Middle East. I have two current projects. First, I study the dilemmas of Islamism in the wake of the Arab uprisings, looking at the ambiguities and internal dynamics of contemporary Islamist mobilizations, with fieldwork funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust and the Project on Middle East Political Science. Second, I write about the politics of protest in the Middle East through a comparative analysis of contentious politics.

Before coming to Durham I spent three years as a Fellow by Examination at Magdalen College, Oxford. Previously, I worked as a foreign correspondent with the Guardian, with postings in Islamabad, Baghdad, Beirut, and Jerusalem. I have a BA in History from Cambridge and an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies and a DPhil in Oriental Studies from Oxford. I am a Fellow of the HEA.

Twitter: @rmccarthy

Research Grants:

2022-24: BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, 'Islamist Dilemmas: Investigating Dynamics of Islamist Party Change in North Africa'

2021-22: POMEPS Travel, Research and Engagement Grant, 'Islamist Party Change: Strategies after Electoral Setbacks'

2020-24: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Savoir Grant, 'Loyalties of the Faithful: Attitudes and Values of Islamist Party Members' (PI Prof. Francesco Cavatorta)

2017-18: APSA Small Research Grant, 'Tunisia and the Politics of Protest' 

Research interests

  • Islamism
  • Comparative Politics of the Middle East
  • Contentious Politics


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Supervision students