Dr Lars Berger
Associate Professor in International Security
I received my MA in Political Science, Islamic Studies, and Sociology as well as my PhD in Political Science from the Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena in Germany. In 2006-07, I was a British Academy Fellow at the Department of Politics at Newcastle University. From 2007 to 2013, I was Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Salford.
I have studied, travelled and researched widely in the Middle East, including a one-year study stay at the American University in Cairo, as well as further research trips to Egypt, the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern and African Studies in Tel Aviv/Israel, the King Faisal Centre for Islamic Research and Studies in Riyadh/Saudi Arabia, as well as the Council for British Research in the Levant.
In 2002-03, I was one of two Germans to join the American Political Science Association's Congressional Fellowship Program which provided me with unique insights into the foreign-policy making process in the United States. In 2007, the German Middle East Studies Association (DAVO) recognized my research with an award for the best PhD dissertation of the year.
I have been a frequent commentator on various BBC TV and Radio channels regarding the political changes sweeping the Arab world since January 2011.
My research embraces qualitative and quantitative methods in the study of Islamist terrorism, US domestic, foreign and counterterrorism policies, as well as the domestic and international politics of the Arab and Muslim world (extending to Africa and South Asia insofar as this relates to Islamist terrorist groups and US attempts to counter them).
In my critical assessments of the often contentious relationship between the United States and the wider Middle East, I take great care to circumvent and challenge the biases that often mark mutual perceptions. My current research focuses in particular on images of the West and Western policies in Arab and Muslim public debate and public opinion.
I am convenor and sole contributor to my year three module “The Politics of Islamism”. This module offers a broad overview of Muslim political thinking since the mid-19th century in general and various streams of Islamist thinking and activism since the early 20th century in particular. Our discussion of Islamist viewpoints on political violence, democratic participation, and women’s rights helps us better understand the role of these movements in the so-called Arab Spring and its aftermath.
I also revised and currently contribute to the final year module ‘Terrorism: Concepts, Debates, Cases’.
At postgraduate level, I convene and teach revised and newly introduced modules on terrorism and counterterrorism.
I am interested in proposals that seek to examine US counterterrorism and Middle East policies, including their domestic determinants, as well as the domestic and international politics of the Middle East (particularly involving Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Israel) including the role of Islamist movements.
Current PhD students
James, Natalie, Exploring the gendered and racialised narratives of the Prevent programme (with Polly Wilding)
O’Connor, Ryan, Discourses of Intervention (with Nick Robinson)
Swinhoe, Harry, Shari'a, Violence, and the Caliphate: An analysis of Islamic State’s strategic narratives (with Jack Holland, Gordon Clubb)
Ponting, Steve, International Development Aid and Counterterrorism Strategy (with Graeme Davies)
Nasser, Sumaya, Evolution through Revolution: The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and the Syrian Crisis (with Hendrik Kraetzschmar)
- (2017) Democratic Values and the Microfoundations of Arab Support for Peace with Israel, Conflict Management and Peace Science
- (2015) Local, National and Global Islam: Religious Guidance and European Muslim Public Opinion on Political Radicalism and Social Conservatism, West European Politics 39:2, 205-228
- (2014) Democratic Contagion versus Authoritarian Resilience: Jordan’s Prospects for Change, in Fahed Al-Sumait; Nele Lenze and Michael C. Hudson (eds), The Arab Uprisings: Catalysts, Dynamics, and Trajectories, Washington, DC: Rowman and Littlefield
- (2014) Foreign policies or culture – What shapes Muslim public opinion on political violence against the United States?, Journal of Peace Research, 51:6, 782-796
- (2013) Saudi Arabia, in Political Insight, 4:3, 22-25
- (2012) Guns, Butter, and Human Rights: The Congressional Politics of U.S. Aid to Egypt, American Politics Research, 40:4, 603-635.
- (2012) Conceptualizing al-Qaeda and US Grand Strategy, in Christina Hellmich & Andreas Behnke (eds.), Knowing al-Qaeda: The Epistemology of Terrorism, Ashgate, London, United Kingdom, pp. 57-76.
- (2012) Yemen and the Middle East Conference - The Challenge of Failing States and Transnational Terrorism, Policy Brief, Academic Peace Orchestra, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, Germany (with Maurice Döring, Sven-Erik Fikenscher, Ahmed al-Saif, Ahmed al-Wahishi).
- (2011) The Missing Link? U.S. Policy and the International Dimensions of Authoritarian Resilience in the Arab World, Political Studies, 59:1, 38-55.
- (2009) The Challenge of Talking about Terrorism. The EU and the Arab Debate on the Causes of Islamist Terrorism', Terrorism and Political Violence, 21:4, 539-557 (with Hartmut Behr).
Media Contact Areas
- US foreign and counterterrorism policies and domestic politics
- Islamist movements
- International relations and domestic politics of the Middle East