The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Simon Philpott

Senior Lecturer in International Politics



Like many Australians, I have a parent born overseas. My mother (and her family) are all Australian born (of Scottish and German descent) but my father is from Birmingham (of English and Irish descent). I have lived in many parts of Australia including Adelaide (my home town), Alice Springs, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. I have a fondness for Melbourne and Sydney. As a teenager, I also spent an eye opening year in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

Roles and Responsibilities

PGT Director (Politics)(2005-2008) (2013-) (my main achievement during the first term was assisting with the design of and steering through the approval process three new MA degrees. MA International Politics [Critical Geopolitics]; [Global Justice and Ethics]; and [Globalisation, Poverty and Development]
Degree Programme Director, MA International Studies & MA European Union Studies (2005-2008)

School Research Committee member (2005-10)

PGR Director (2003-04)

Politics Steering Group (2004-05)

External Relations Director for GPS (2009-11) 


My first degree was a Bachelor of Arts, Flinders University of South Australia with majors in Political Science and Indonesian language and a minor in Asian Studies.
I completed a first class Honours degree in Asian Studies at the same institution. My dissertation was Understanding Electoral Politics in New Order Indonesia. My primary interest in that dissertation was to explore how the New Order's non-competitive elections managed political aspiration and disaffection.
I gained my PhD in the Political Science and International Relations programme at Australian National University in 1997. My supervisors were Prof Barry Hindess and Prof David Campbell. My dissertation was called Knowing Indonesia: Orientalism and the Discourse of Indonesian Politics. Using the work of Michel Foucault (especially the literature on power/knowledge and governmentality) and Edward Said (Orientalism was the key publication) I explored the way that Indonesian political life had been constructed in mainly US and Australian social and political science.

Previous Positions

Visiting Professor, Dept of Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada (2001-02).

Lecturer in Asian Studies, Coordinator of Asian Studies and Deputy Head of School, School of Asian Languages and Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia (1998-2001).

Lecturer in International Politics (.5) Wollongong University, Wollongong, Australia (1997).


British International Studies Association
International Studies Association
Asian Studies Association of Australia Coucil Member (2001)
Asian Studies Association of Australia (1998-2002)

Honours and Awards

Visting Fellowship, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University ($8000) (1998-99)
Australian Postgraduate Research Award (1993-96)
Australia Asia Research Award ($17500) (1994)
HECS Exemption Scholarship (1992)
Chancellor's Letter of Commendation (1989-91)


English is my first language and I speak some Indonesian. My first degree had a major in Indonesian but I have had little opportunity to make use of these skills since moving to the northern hemisphere in 2001.

Informal Interests

I am a keen fan of cricket and played as an all-rounder for Clara Vale Cricket Club (2002-06). I also have a debilitating passion for the Essendon Football Club (but have not played Australian football since school days). Motorcycling is a long term interest too and I have toured Australia and NZ extensively. More recently, I have had great trips through the Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Scotland is also close to Newcastle and that is another favourite destination. I enjoy good food and entertaining friends with barbecue when northern weather permits!


Research Interests

Research interests include Western media representations of Asia, the media,popular culture and world politics, the politics of transitional justice in East Timor, Australia-Indonesia relations, postcolonial thought, the thought of Michel Foucault, particularly governmentality.

Other Expertise

I served as a UN accredited observer of the 1999 general election in Indonesia and of the independence referendum in East Timor, also in 1999. These were both fascinating experiences of democratic processes at work and the flaws in such processes. In the case of East Timor, the experience stimulated an ongoing research interest.

Current Work

My current research has three themes. My main interest is researching and writing a monograph on Western media representations of Asian cultures, countries and peoples. I have a strong interest in 'newsworthiness' and news cultures and other popular forms of representation including movies, video games and blogs. This research is funded by a British Academy Larger Grant. A second and related interest lies in the effect of the contemporary media on world politics with a growing interest in exploring this as a politics of affect. Popular culture and particularly film is something that I am slowly developing as a key area of my research with one publication out, another that explores American foreign policy through amnesia films nearing completion and a third that considers the (commercial and critical) failure of Iraq war films under development. My third area of research interest is the politics of East Timor. The long Indonesian occupation was a period of significant violence in the experience of most East Timorese and Australian foreign policy was complicit in this disaster. As someone with a background in the study of Indonesian language and politics and Southeast Asian politics more generally, East Timor loomed large in my concerns about Australia and the peoples of Southeast Asia.

Future Research

My main priority at the moment is the three year British Academy funded project which formally began on January 1 2008. This will involve a great deal of learning about video games and their design and the blogosphere so I will be busy! I spent several weeks interviewing foreign correspondents in Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok in 2008 and 2009. The key outputs from this research will include a monograph, a couple of research papers and finally an international conference bringing together academics, film-makers, video game designers and bloggers.

Since 2010, Matt Davies, Kyle Grayson (Politics, Newcastle University), Christina Rowley and Jutta Weldes (Politics, Bristol University) and I have been co-editing a book series with Routledge under the title Popular Culture and World Politics (for more information on the series, see: 

Research Roles

I have been a reviewer for a number of different international journals including International Politics, Third World Quarterly, Review of International Studies, Security Dialogue, International Political Sociology and have also completed manuscript reviews for Routledge, the University of Minnesota Press and others. I have also acted as a project evaluator for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in Canada.

Postgraduate Supervision

Over the years I have been at Newcastle I have and continue to supervise and co-supervise a number of PhD students. These include:

Rasha El-Ibiary, Televisual Representation of the 'War on Terror': Comparative Analysis of Al Jazeera and CNN in Covering the 2003 Invasion of Iraq (graduated)

Silvana Gliga, European Integration and European Nation-Building Traditions, (graduated)

Talya Leodari, Between Two Worlds: Performance, Politics and the Role of Art in Social Change, (graduated)

Andres Perezalonso, Truth Matters: An Assessment of Foucauldian Discourse Analysis Through the Case Study of the George W. Bush’s Administration’s War on Terrorism (graduated)

Mark Edward, Caribbeanism: An Analysis of New Media Representations of the Caribbean (graduated)

Nick Appleby, Political Communication and Political Violence (in progress)

Cahir O'Doherty, The Sense of an Ending: Conflict, Culture and Closing (commenced September 2012)

Alex McLeod, The Challenge of 'Wawasan 2020: Ethnicity, Modernisation and National Identity (commenced September 2012)

I have worked with a number of these students in assisting them to secure research funding.

Esteem Indicators

Translation into Indonesian of my monograph Rethinking Indonesia: Postcolonial Theory, Authoritarianism and Identity. The translation was completed and published in 2003 by LKiS in Yogyakarta with the title Meruntuhkan Indonesia: Politik Postkolonial dan Otoritarianisme.

May-June 1999 UN volunteer observer of the Indonesian general election (Jakarta and Jayapura) under the auspices of the UNDP and the Australian Council for Overseas Aid.

August-September 1999 UN volunteer observer of the popular independence plebiscite in East Timor (Dili) under the auspices of UNAMET and the Victorian Local Government Association.


Virtually the Same: Asia Among the Digital Fragments, funded under the British Academy Larger Grants Scheme (£65.5k)(January 1 2008-December 31 2010). I also received a small grant under the Arts and Humanities Research Fund here at Newcastle which funded a short period of field work in Dili, East Timor in January 2005


Undergraduate Teaching

POL1046: Order and Disorder: The Shaping of the 21st Century

Postgraduate Teaching

POL8048: World Politics and Popular Culture

POL8041: Theories and Approaches to Politics