Director of Middle East Studies, Professor of Middle East Politics
Professor Philip Robins has been a member of the academic staff at the University of Oxford for almost 25 years. During that time he has been responsible for the overall provision of all of the teaching under the umbrella of Middle East Politics. He currently holds the position of Professor of the Politics of the Middle East and divides his time between the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies and the Department for Politics and International Affairs. He is also a Fellow of St Antony’s College, where he has held various positions as Dean, Senior Tutor and Sub-Warden and has been an ex-officio member of the College’s executive body. He is also a member of the Middle East Centre of St Antony’s College. During 2009/10 he was elected by his peers to hold the prestigious position of Proctor of the University.
Before Oxford, Professor Robins was the founder of the Middle East Programme at the reknown British foreign policy think tank, Chatham House (also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs), which he joined as a research fellow in 1987. He took his doctorate from the University of Exeter, where he worked under Professor Tim Niblock; his external examiner was Professor Roger Owen, subsequently at Harvard.
Professor Robins’ academic work ranges widely across the Middle East region. His most recent work focusses on the politics of the illegal drug trade in ‘Middle East Drugs Bazaar: Production, Consumption and Prevention’ (Hurst, 2015) which gives an overview of these issues in each of 10 countries across the region. This was the first book to be published that had such a wide ranging country perspective on the subject. His co-edited book ‘The Role, Position and Agency of Cusp States in International Relations’ (Routledge, 2014) explores the agency of states who exist uneasily on the edge of a regional power system. He is the author of The Middle East: A Beginners Guide (first published by Oneworld in 2009, and updated in 2016), which is loosely based on his course of undergraduate teaching. He also specialises in a number of countries of the region. For example, Professor Robins has been a prolific writer on Turkey. His book, Suits & Uniforms: Turkish Foreign Policy Since the Cold War (Univ of Washington Press, 2003) was translated into Turkish and Greek. His earlier work, Turkey and the Middle East (Pinter, 1989) was the first ever to be published on the subject in any language. Professor Robins’ doctoral research focused on the modern history and state formation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. This work resulted in the publication, A History of Jordan (Cambridge University Press, 2004), which is being updated for a second edition to be published in 2019, and which adds a commentary on the Kingdom from the death of King Hussein to the present under King Abdullah II.
Professor Robins’ current research incudes a continuing interest in public policy relating to illegal drugs in the region; and he has started a new project on leadership in the Middle East.
He is also the Director of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellowship programme, which has been running since 2015 and has had seven Fellows appointed to the programme to date. The research output has been impressive, and has included work on minorities in the Middle East, gender issues in Iran, the Coptic community in Egypt, women and the justice system in Iran, and health policy in Iran. The current fellows, Dr Susann Kasem and Dr Shun Watanabe, appointed in October 2018, will expand the research focus to Lebanon and Jordan and are in the early stages of formulating their research questions.
Professor Robins is also involved in a range of extra-curricula activities commensurate with his academic profile and position. He advises governments, corporations and NGOs on current issues in the Middle East and has taken part in workshops for the UN and EU.