The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Neil Russell

Teaching Fellow - Politics


I joined the Politics Department in September 2018 as a Teaching Fellow in Politics, with reference to the Middle East. I am interested in Islamic social movements, state-society relations, and authoritarianism in the Middle East. My research examines the relationship between Islamic charities and politics, the impact of welfare provision in providing electoral support for Islamist parties, and how this in turn affects their relations with the state. Taking a case-study approach, my research has focused mainly on Egypt, but with a disciplinary background in comparative politics, I am now looking to extend my findings to other cases in the region.


  • PhD, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh (pending)
  • MSc., Arab World Studies, University of Edinburgh
  • MSc., Politics Research, University of Oxford


    Current and future projects

    I am nearing completion of my PhD at the University of Edinburgh, funded by a 2 3 Area-based Language Studies scholarship from the Economic and Social Research Council. Titled, "Bringing the state back in? The crackdown on Islamic charities in Sisi's Egypt", my thesis examines how the targeting of the Muslim Brotherhood since 2013 has been extended to include Islamic social and religious institutions, including welfare charities, preacher training institutes, and mosques. It argues that state-society relations under Sisi indicate a more direct form of authoritarian control than previous regimes, with the state increasing its institutional presence in social and religious fields, where private service-providing actors were encouraged in the eras of Sadat and Mubarak.

    As for future research, I am currently preparing a proposal for a long-term postdoctoral study that extends on the findings of my PhD research, to conduct a small-N comparative study of state-society relations since the 2011 Arab Uprisings, with particular reference to Islamic social and religious institutions. This research will examine how states which experienced different outcomes during the Arab Uprisings, from democratization to counter-revolutionary resumption of the authoritarian order, adopted similar strategies in their relations with Islamic actors and their institutions.



    Undergraduate Teaching

    POL2012: Politics of the Middle East

    POL1032: Introduction to International Politics