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LSE Middle East Centre Podcasts

Welcome to the LSE Middle East Centre's podcast feed.The MEC builds on LSE's long engagement with the Middle East and North Africa and provides a central hub for the wide range of research on the region carried out at LSE.Follow us and keep up to date with our latest event podcasts and interviews!

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Colonial Control in Algeria: French Security and Intelligence Services

Speaker: Rabah Aissaoui, University of LeicesterChair: John King, Society for Algerian StudiesIn this talk, Dr Aissaoui examines some key developments in the political mobilisation of Algerians prior to the Second World War. He looks at how the French colonial authorities, and more specifically the French security services, responded to the political situation in Algeria by implementing a number of changes to the intelligence gathering process, changes that were marked by internal conflicts and tensions. Recorded on 28 January 2013.Image credit: Wikipedia. 'French' Algiers.

1hr 20mins

28 Jan 2013

Rank #1

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The Fight Against ISIS: Kurds on the Front Line

Speaker: Lahur Talabany, Zanyari AgencyChair: Toby Dodge, LSE Middle East CentreSince ISIS' occupation of Iraqi territory in June 2014, the Kurdish security forces have been on the frontline as one of the most effective forces in the international coalitions’ efforts to reclaim territory in both Iraq and Syria. Zanyari Intelligence Agency and Counter Terrorism Group Special Forces, under the leadership of Lahur Talabany, have played a key role in these efforts. Lahur Talabany will share with you his insights into how the struggle against ISIS is proceeding. Recorded on 6 October 2016.

1hr 18mins

6 Oct 2016

Rank #2

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Enemies and Neighbours: Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel

Speaker: Ian Black, LSE Middle East CentreDiscussant: Tom Phillips, Royal College of Defence Studies Chair: Toby Dodge, LSE Middle East CentreThis talk launches Ian Black’s book Enemies and Neighbours: Enemies and Neighbours: Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel, 1917–2017, in which he traces how, half a century after the watershed of the 1967 war, hopes for a two-state solution and an end to occupation have all but disappeared. Drawing on declassified documents, oral histories and his own on-the-ground reporting, Black recreates the major milestones in the most polarizing conflict of the modern age from both sides. Recorded on 29 November 2017.

1hr 29mins

29 Nov 2017

Rank #3

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Revisiting the Arab Spring in Bahrain

Speaker: Abdulhadi Khalaf, Lund UniversityChair: John Chalcraft, LSEIn this seminar, Abdulhadi Khalaf revisits the Bahraini trajectory of the Arab Spring. He examines the consequences of competition between moderate opposition networks and their diverse radical flanks. The paper argues that the positive roles of the radical flanks include developing new political opportunities and attracting new participants to join the movement. These, in the case of Bahrain, have outweighed the commonly cited negative outcomes, such fragmenting the movement and/or exposing it to manipulation by one or more of the protagonists in the ongoing contention. Recorded on 8 December 2015.This event forms part of the Social Movements and Popular Mobilisation in the MENA event series.Image Credit: Flickr, Chris Price. Flag of Bahrain.

1hr 52mins

8 Dec 2015

Rank #4

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Middle East Border Geopolitics: Established and Emerging Themes

Speaker: Richard Schofield, King's College LondonChair: Madawi Al-Rasheed, LSE Middle East CentreIn trying to make sense of the spontaneous appearance of new borderland spatialities in Syria and Iraq, as well as recent instances of formal state boundary-making such as the Abyei arbitration, Richard Schofield asks what constitutes a borderland in the Middle East. Addressing both historical and contemporary concerns, with notable attention being paid to Iran-Iraq and Saudi-Yemen, he argues that developing a more overtly multidisciplinary basis for the study of contested borders will best aid their appreciation and understanding. Recorded on 24 February 2015.

1hr 19mins

24 Feb 2015

Rank #5

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Alternative Universalisms? Contemporary Turkish Discourses on Culture in International Relations

Speaker: Katerina Dalacoura, LSEChair: Zeynep Kaya, LSE Middle East CentreBuilding on a long intellectual tradition going back to the late Ottoman period, debates in present-day Turkey on the role of culture and civilisation in world politics, and the relationship between modernity and Islam, are vibrant and ongoing. This lecture discusses whether there exist, within this body of thought, new possibilities of going beyond the familiar categories of East and West, secularism and Islam. It asks whether alternative universalist understandings of culture and civilisation in world politics are on offer, or a chimera. Recorded on 2 March 2016.Image description: In 1914, Abdullah Cevdet, an Ottoman intellectual, advocated the wholesale acceptance of Western civilization ‘with its roses and thorns’.

1hr 27mins

2 Mar 2016

Rank #6

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The 1953 Coup in Iran: About Oil or Communism?

There has been much discussion whether the 1953 should be understood in the context of the Cold War or that of economic conflicts between the industrial West and developing countires--in other words, as precursor of the rise of OPEC and oil nationalisation by emerging states in the 1960s and 1970s. In this talk, Professor Abrahamian will focus on how far the newly released State Department and CIA documents help answer this question. Recorded on 29 May 2019.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ervand Abrahamian is Professor Emeritus of History at Baruch College and the Graduate Center in the City University of New York. He is also the author of: Iran Between Two Revolutions (Princeton University Press, 1982); The Iranian Mojahedin (Yale University Press, 1989); Khomeinism (University of California Press, 1993); Tortured confessions: Prisons and Public Reactions in Iran (University of California Press, 2004); A History of Modern Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2008); and The Coup: 1953, The CIA and the Roots of Modern US-Iranian Relations (The New Press, 2013). Some of his books have been translated and published in Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Italian, and Polish.He is now writing a book on the 1979 revolution in Iran. In 2011, he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Massoumeh Torfeh is a research associate at the London School of Economics and Political Science and at the School of Oriental and African Studies specialising in the politics of Iran and Afghanistan. She is a regular media commentator analysing developments in both countries. She was formerly the director of communications and spokesperson for the United Nations in Afghanistan, and a BBC World Service senior producer. She has published several papers about Iran in academic journals and co-authored two books on Iran. Her main focus of research has, however, been the causes of the repeated failure of democracy in Iran. Her PhD in Political Science is from LSE and on that subject.Image: Banner featuring Mohammad Mosaddeq during Iran's 1953 Coup. Source: Popularresistance.org

1hr 49mins

31 May 2019

Rank #7

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Kurdish Women Fighters: A Path Out of Patriarchy?

Speaker: Güneş Murat Tezcür, University of Central FloridaChair: Zeynep Kaya, LSE Middle East CentreOver the last three decades, tens of thousands of women have joined the ranks of the PKK and its affiliated organisations. What factors explain their violent mobilisation despite life-threatening risks? Building on a unique dataset of more than 9,000 militant bios and in-depth interviews with the families of militants, Güneş Murat Tezcür argues that gender inequality directly influences women's decisions to take up arms, believing that doing so provides them with a path out of patriarchal gender relations. Recorded on 7 February 2018.--------------------------Güneş Murat Tezcür is the Jalal Talabani Chair of Kurdish Political Studies at the University of Central Florida. His research focuses on political violence, social movements, and the geopolitics of the Middle East with a focus on the Kurdish question.Image credit: Kurdishstruggle, Flickr.

40mins

7 Feb 2018

Rank #8

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Algeria's Belle Epoque: Memories of the 1970s

Speaker: Ed McAllister, University of OxfordChair: John King, Society for Algerian StudiesFrom the perspective of a working-class Algiers neighbourhood, this talk looks at social memories of post-independence nation-building during the 1970s as reflections of the disappointments of the 1980s, the dislocation caused by civil war during the 1990s, and the reinforced state power and consumerism of the 2000s. In contrast to the scholarly attention commonly devoted to periods of violence and upheaval in Algerian history, McAllister sets out to explore how Algerians remember a much understudied decade of stability, and to ask what these memories reveal about current relationships to politics and society, by focusing on views of politics, urban space and sociability at neighbourhood level. Recorded on 21 October 2015. This event is jointly organised by the LSE Middle East Centre and the Society for Algerian Studies.Image credit: texturedutemps.org. Algiers in the 1970s.

1hr 30mins

21 Oct 2015

Rank #9

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Rentier Islamism: The Role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf

Speaker: Courtney Freer, LSE Kuwait ProgrammeChair: Toby Dodge, LSE Middle East CentreMuslim Brotherhood affiliates in the Gulf are greatly discussed yet little understood. This lecture, based on findings from extensive field work in Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE, examines the historical and current political role of the Ikhwan in states traditionally considered impenetrable to Islamist movements due to their status as wealthy rentier states. Recorded on 11 November 2015.This is an LSE Kuwait Programme event.

42mins

20 Nov 2017

Rank #10

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The Kurds and the Conflict in Syria

Speaker: Saleh Muslim Mohamed, Democratic Union Party (PYD)Chair: Robert Lowe, LSE MECIt is nine months since Kurds took control of towns in northern Syria, having established an unprecedented coalition of Kurdish parties. Saleh Muslim Mohamed, the co-President of the most prominent Syrian Kurdish party, assesses the progress of Kurdish politics and local government and the wider Syrian and regional context. Recorded on 3 May 2013.

1hr 1min

20 Nov 2017

Rank #11

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Understanding The Drivers Of Conflict In Iraq

Speakers: Toby Dodge, Zeynep Kaya and Jessica Watkins, LSE Middle East Centre; Renad Mansour; Chatham House.It has now been over a year since the liberation of Mosul by Iraqi government forces in July 2017. This victory marks a new stage in the violent conflict that has destabilised Iraq since at least regime change in 2003. In some ways, the breakthrough in July 2017 can be compared firstly to the initial aftermath of the invasion in April 2003 until the insurgency transformed itself into a civil war in 2005, and then secondly to the period following the US-led surge that started in February 2007 until the reconstitution of ISIS and the fall of Mosul in 2014.However, as all these examples indicate, if the underlying drivers of instability are not properly identified and mediated through accurately targeted policy interventions, then a return to the levels of organised violence that have dominated Iraq for the majority of the last fifteen years is likely. This event marks the launch of the Conflict Research Programme (CRP) Iraq.Funded by UK DFID, the Conflict Research Programme (CRP) is a three-year programme designed to address the drivers and dynamics of violent conflict in the Middle East and Africa and to inform the measures being used to tackle armed conflict and its impacts. Recorded on 30 October 2018---------------------------------Toby Dodge (@ProfTobyDodge) Toby is Kuwait Programme Director, Kuwait Professor and Professor in the International Relations Department. Zeynep Kaya (@zeynepn_kaya) is Research Fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre. Renad Mansour (@renadmansour) is Research Fellow in the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House. Jessica Watkins is Research Officer at the Middle East Centre, currently working on a DFID-funded project looking at regional drivers of conflict in Iraq and Syria.Image: An Iraqi Bazaar. Photo: serkansenturk.

1hr 22mins

5 Nov 2018

Rank #12

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The AKP and Turkish Foreign Policy in the Middle East

Speakers: Cengiz Çandar, Radikal; Zeynep Kaya, LSE Middle East CentreChair: Toby Dodge, LSE Middle East CentreTurkey has traditionally favoured a policy of maintaining the status quo in its foreign relations in the Middle East and has placed limits on its own engagement with the region. Today however, it finds itself more deeply involved in Middle East politics than ever before. This event marks the launch of a collection of papers that were presented at a workshop aimed at untangling Turkey’s domestic politics and foreign policies in the Middle East under the current rule. Cengiz Çandar and Zeynep Kaya offer insights into significant changes now unfolding in Turkish, Syrian and Kurdish politics. Recorded on 18 April 2016.

1hr 12mins

18 Apr 2016

Rank #13

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Lebanon's Protests: A Society Turning Against the System

With continuous protests ongoing across Lebanon for the last two weeks, this event will analyse this largest demonstration of public disobedience for the past decade. The situation will be contextualised against the backdrop of failing state services, a system that has gradually drifted apart from society, and also a society that has reached its consumerist limits.This event is part of a series being organised by the LSE Institute for Global Affairs responding to the Lebanese protests. For further information, please contact Dr. Bilal Malaeb.Jamil Mouawad is a lecturer in political studies and public administration at the American University of Beirut. His research interests in state-society relations span the subfields of comparative politics and political economy. He specializes in the politics of the Middle East, with a focus on governance and limited statehood. He was a Max Weber Fellow at the European Univesrity Institute, finalizing his book based on his PhD thesis. The book presents a critique to the concept of ‘weak’ states. The central argument of his book is that ‘weakness’ does not capture the nature of the Lebanese state and that the patterns of ‘presence’ and ‘absence’ are by no means incidental but central to the way politics works.He was awarded a PhD in politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in June 2015. Later, he joined the Institut Français du Proche-Orient (IFPO) in Beirut, as a postdoctoral fellow, through a grant from the Arab Council for Social Sciences (ACSS). He also acted as a researcher coordinator of the Critical Security Studies in the Arab world and the Ethics in Social sciences project, both on-going projects launched by ACSS.Hicham Safieddine is Lecturer in the History of the Modern Middle East at King's College, London. He is author of Banking on the State: The financial Foundations of Lebanon (Stanford University Press). He holds a PhD in Middle East Studies from the University of Toronto, an MA in Political Science from York University, Canada, and an MA in Economics from The University of Rochester, New York.Sophie Chamas is a senior teaching fellow at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS. She is finishing up her PhD in Modern Middle East Studies at the University of Oxford, where she was also an Ertegun Scholar. Her work focuses on the study of social movements, counter-culture, and political theory and discourse rooted in, focused on or related to the Middle East. Broadly speaking, she is interested in thinking through the life, death and afterlife of the radical political imaginary in the Middle East and beyond. Sophie is also an essayist and writer of creative non-fiction. Her writing has appeared in Kohl: a journal for body and gender research, The State, Raseef 22, Mashallah News, Jadaliyya and The Towner, amongst other publications.Bilal Malaeb is a postdoctoral research officer at the Institute of Global Affairs (IGA) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He works primarily on the Responsible Deal project, an inter-regional collaboration of seven universities, coordinated by the LSE. His research focus is on the integration of Syrian refugees in frontier countries in the Middle East. Bilal’s expertise is in Microeconometrics and Development Economics, and his research interests are in migration, poverty, and labour market issues. Prior to joining the LSE, he worked as a research officer at the University of Oxford and a research fellow at the University of Southampton.Join the conversation on Twitter using #LSELebanon

1hr 32mins

5 Nov 2019

Rank #14

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Israeli-Gulf Relations and Changing Middle Eastern Geopolitics

In recent years Israel has forged closer links with Arab Gulf states with which it has no diplomatic relations, unlike Egypt and Jordan. The main factors in their converging interests are shared alarm about Iran’s rise as a regional power, opposition to Barack Obama’s Middle East policies and the marginalization of the divided Palestinians. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain all have business, security and intelligence ties with Israel, though since they are largely “below the horizon” it is hard to judge their extent. Qatar and Oman have links too – illustrated by Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Muscat and Doha’s role mediating with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But these connections are more visible than ever before. Donald Trump’s wooing of the Saudis briefly promoted hopes for a role for Riyadh in the president’s long-trailed “deal of the century.” The US decision to abandon the international nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions was greeted by Israel and the Gulf states, raising the possibility of some kind of operational alliance between them, likely with US coordination, against Tehran. Netanyahu now talks openly of working to achieve normalization with the Saudis. The Gulf states, however, all remain committed to the 2002 Arab League peace initiative, which promises recognition of Israel in return for a solution of the Palestinian issue. That goal is unlikely to be either abandoned or achieved, but clandestine links look set to continue growing. Recorded on 22 January 2019.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ian Black (@ian_black) is Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE Middle East Centre and a former Middle East editor, diplomatic editor and European editor for the Guardian newspaper. Michael Mason is Director of the Middle East Centre. He is also Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environment and Associate of the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment. His research interests encompass environmental politics and governance, notably issues of accountability, transparency and securityImage: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said. Source: Office of the Prime Minister / Flickr

1hr 21mins

1 Feb 2019

Rank #15

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Four Decades of Reporting Change in the Middle East

Speaker: Jim Muir, BBC News and LSE Middle East Centre Visiting Senior FellowChair: Ian Black, LSE Middle East Centre Visiting Senior FellowJim Muir has lived in and reported on the Middle East since he arrived in Beirut in January 1975, armed with a Cambridge degree in Arabic. Expecting Lebanon to be a stable base from which to cover a turbulent region, he spent the next 15 years reporting on the tortuous conflict which engulfed the country itself. He was in northern Iraq during the Kurdish uprising against Saddam Hussein in 1991 and covered the dramatic flight of the Kurds to the mountains. After a spell reporting the Bosnia conflict, he moved to Cairo as BBC Middle East correspondent in 1995, followed by five years in Tehran, where he chronicled the doomed hopes raised by the election of the reformist President Khatami. In 2004, he returned to Beirut, covered the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah war, and spent much time in Iraq until the Arab Spring diverted attention to Egypt, Tunisia and especially Syria, on whose protracted crisis he provided a large amount of the BBC's coverage. His recent work includes an in-depth look at the factors behind the rise and fall of the ‘Islamic State’. In this talk he examines, the major themes of change that have transformed the region in his time. Recorded on 16 January 2019.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Jim Muir (@MuirJim) is a journalist serving as Middle East Correspondent for BBC News, based in Beirut and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre. He has over 40 years' experience covering Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iran and Iraq. Ian Black (@ian_black) is Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE Middle East Centre and a former Middle East editor, diplomatic editor and European editor for the Guardian newspaper.Image: Jim Muir in Qana, South Lebanon, 2006. Image Courtesy of the Speaker.

1hr 28mins

21 Jan 2019

Rank #16

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We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria

Speaker: Wendy Pearlman, Northwestern UniversityDiscussant: Malu HalasaChair: Rahaf Aldoughli, University of ManchesterThis event launches Wendy Pearlman's book, “We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria”. Based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East and Europe, the book features a collection of intimate wartime testimonies from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight. Recorded on Wednesday 21 March.

1hr 31mins

21 Mar 2018

Rank #17

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Egypt as Effigy: Predatory Power, Hijacked History, and the Devolution of Revolution

* We apologise for the abrupt ending of this podcast. The last few minutes of the recording were corrupted.Speaker: Adel Iskandar, Simon Fraser UniversitySeven years since the popular uprising that shook Egypt, the relationships between state, society, social movements and corporate power have been reconfigured, perhaps even disfigured. On the eve of the anniversary of the January 25 revolution, Adel Iskandar reflects on these changes and asks how they have affected our understanding of social, cultural and political life in the country. He argues that Egypt today is a replica of various historic Egypts, each manifesting as an effigy built for either public scrutiny or glorification. Recorded on 24 January 2018.--------------------------Adel Iskandar is Director of the Global Communication Program at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver. He is the author of several works on Egypt and Arab media, including "Egypt In Flux: Essays on an Unfinished Revolution" (IB Taurus, 2013) and "Mediating the Arab Uprisings" (Tadween Publishing, 2012). He is a co-editor of Jadaliyya and an associate producer of the Status audio journal.Image credit: Guillén Pérez, Flickr

1hr 27mins

24 Jan 2018

Rank #18

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Updating 'A Modern History of the Kurds'

Speakers: David McDowall and Zeynep Kaya, LSE Middle East Centre.David McDowall’s ground-breaking modern history of the Kurds was first published in 1996. It became a foundation text for the subsequent growth of scholarship on the Kurds and, revised and updated three times, remains an essential part of the literature. David is currently updating the book again and will share his thoughts on developments in the field and, in particular, on areas which have gained in importance and understanding over the last 25 years.David McDowall studied Islamic History under Albert Hourani for his first degree and wrote his post-graduate dissertation on the Druze revolt in Syria, 1925-27. He is a generalist, having worked for the British Council and UNRWA, before becoming a full-time writer, writing on Britain, Palestine, Lebanon and the Kurds. After 20 years writing and self-publishing a series of British landscape books, he has reverted to updating his history of the Kurds.The event marks the launch of the Kurdish Studies Series at the LSE Middle East Centre. Convened by Zeynep Kaya and Robert Lowe, the series will encourage dissemination and discussion of new research on Kurdish politics and society and provide a network for scholars and students with shared research interests. Recorded on 23 October 2018.---------------------------Image: Book Cover 'Modern History of the Arabs' courtesy of the author.

1hr 15mins

14 Nov 2018

Rank #19

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The Kurds of Northern Syria: Governance, Diversity and Conflicts

This event launches The Kurds of Northern Syria: Governance, Diversity and Conflicts, written by Harriet Allsopp and Wladimir van Wilgenburg and published by Bloomsbury in July 2019. Based on unprecedented access to Kurdish-governed areas of Syria, including exclusive interviews with administration officials and civilian surveys, The Kurds of Northern Syria sheds light on the socio-political landscape of northern Syria. The first English-language book to capture the momentous transformations that have occurred since 2011, the authors move beyond idealized images of Rojava and the PYD to provide a nuanced assessment of the Kurdish autonomous experience and the prospects for self-rule in Syria. The book draws on unparalleled field research, as well as analysis of the literature on the evolution of Kurdish politics and the Syrian war.The event is the first in the LSE Middle East Centre Kurdish Studies Series programme for 2019–20.Wladimir van Wilgenburg is an analyst of Kurdish politics and a journalist living in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Robert Lowe is Deputy Director of the Middle East Centre. He joined the Centre when it opened in 2010. Robert is responsible for running the Centre's operations, research activities, fundraising and development.This event is part of the Kurdish Studies Series at the LSE Middle East Centre. Convened by Zeynep Kaya and Robert Lowe, the series will encourage dissemination and discussion of new research on Kurdish politics and society and provide a network for scholars and students with shared research interests. Public lectures and research seminars will be held regularly during term-time. If you wish to join the mailing list for the series, please contact Robert Lowe: r.lowe@lse.ac.uk

1hr 34mins

18 Sep 2019

Rank #20