The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Simon Philpott

Reader in Postcolonial Politics and Popular Culture



I am Australian and lived in many parts of Australia including Adelaide (my home town), Alice Springs, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney before moving to Toronto and then Newcastle. As a teenager, I also spent an eye opening year in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

Roles and Responsibilities

Currently I am the Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership academic contact for Politics (see 

PGT Director (Politics) (final term completed 2014) My main achievement was coordinating and 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]. The programmes recruited strongly during my terms as PGT Director indicating the quality of teaching that characterises Politics PGT studies.

External Relations Director for GPS (2009-11) 

School Executive Committee (2009-11)

School Research Committee member (2005-10)

Degree Programme Director, MA International Studies & MA European Union Studies (2005-2008)

Politics Steering Group (2004-05)

PGR Director (2003-04)


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 Knowing Indonesia: Orientalism and the Discourse of Indonesian Politics used 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
European International Studies Association
Postcolonial Studies Association
Asian Studies Association of Australia Council Member (2001)
Asian Studies Association of Australia (1998-2002)

Honours and Awards

Visiting 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 and cycling are also long term interests.


Undergraduate Teaching

I have taught and contributed to many different undergraduate modules over the years but my current teaching is focused on: 

POL3107: Documentary Film and World Politics

Postgraduate Teaching

I have taught and contributed to many different MA modules over the years but my current teaching is focused on:

POL8048: World Politics and Popular Culture


Research Interests

Research interests include the western media and its depictions of otherness, 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 is focused on documentary film and world politics and the AHRC funded project Screening Violence: A Transnational Study of the Local Imaginaries of Societies in Transition from Conflict.

Future Research

My future research will be focused on documentary films and world politics and am particularly interested in the ways that violence and conflict are depicted in such films. The Screening Violence project will be a significant priority until 2022 with plans for articles, documentary films and a multi-authored monograph.

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 International Organization and have also completed manuscript reviews for Manchester University Press, 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 and the German Peace Foundation.

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) (ESRC funded)

Nick Appleby, Community Through Violence: Conceptualising Community Through UK Parliamentary Responses to Bombings (post-viva revisions) (graduated M.Phil) (ESRC funded)

Cahir O'Doherty, The Sense of an Ending: Conflict, Culture and Closing (graduated) (ESRC funded)

Alex McLeod, Race and Nation in 21st Century Malaysia: The Production of Racialised Politics in the Malaysian Electoral Media (graduated) (ESRC funded)

Cheng Qian The Making of Chinese Identity in American Popular Television (post-viva revisions)

Daniela Morgan Reconciling the Limits of State Sovereignty: An Exploration of the Sardinian Question (commenced September 2016) (ESRC funded).

Sami Almutairi Unveiling the Spring: Western Depictions of the the Arab Spring in Television News Media and Literature (commenced October 2018). 

Rob Cronin Populist Rhetoric in the Online Video Medium: A Study of Trump 2016 (commenced January 2019).

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.


Co-investigator, Screening Violence: A Transnational Study of Post-Conflict Imaginaries, Arts and Humanities Research Council (Standard) (£795,401) (April 2018-May 2022)

Principal investigator, West End Refugee Service Open Chair in Refugee Support, funded under the Impact Acceleration Scheme of the ESRC and the Newcastle Institute of Social Renewal (£12k) (2016-18)

'Home' short films in support of the West End Refugee Service, funded by the Newcastle Institute of Social Renewal (see (2012-13) (£5k)

Virtually the Same: Asia Among the Digital Fragments, funded under the British Academy Larger Grants Scheme (£65.5k)(January 1 2008-December 31 2010).

Arts and Humanities Research Fund here at Newcastle which funded a short period of field work in Dili, East Timor in January 2005 (£1392)