Lancaster University: New grant will enable peace project to widen scope

A Lancaster University-based centre which 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, has secured $500,000 funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Running until June 2025, this project builds on findings from previous grants in an effort to better understand the complex interplay between religious groups and states.

The project is led by Director of SEPAD 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 vast amount of literature has been produced on sectarianism in the Middle East, albeit predominantly focussed on Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

To further these debates, this project explores the ways in which groups relate to each other – both positively and negatively – in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and Israel/Palestine, seeking to push the boundaries of existing scholarship.

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

Professor Mabon said: “We’re incredibly excited to continue our work on sectarianism and regional politics with wonderful scholars from across the world.”

Dr Wastnidge added: “This extension allows both a broadening of our scope and a deepening of our focus on new and existing areas of research and we can’t wait to get started.”

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