University of Nottingham Ningbo China
School of
International Studies
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Dr Ian Nelson

Assistant Professor in Transnational History and Politics, School of International Studies

Personal details


Room 220, Administration Building
The University of Nottingham Ningbo China
199 Taikang East Road
Ningbo 315100   

+86 (0)574 8818 0136

+86 (0)574 8818 0125


BA (Hons) Social Policy and Administration (University of Nottingham)
MA International Relations (University of Nottingham)
PhD in Government and International Affairs (University of Durham)
Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE), May 2016, Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Expertise summary

British, EU, and US foreign policy on the Middle East and North Africa, the modern history and politics of the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts in the context of regional and international relations. British history and politics, and transatlantic relations.

Teaching and learning


I am currently undertaking some of the seminars for the module ‘Understanding Global Relations’ that provides an overview of world politics and international relations theory. In the 2015-16 academic year I was the convenor of ‘Understanding Global Relations’ and of the new undergraduate and postgraduate module ‘History and Politics of the Modern Middle East’.

Before moving to China, I taught at The University of Nottingham (1998-2012), first in the School of Adult and Continuing Education, then in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, and from 2005, in the Institute for Middle Eastern Studies (IMES), School of Humanities. My undergraduate and postgraduate teaching covered modules in history and politics, including ‘Nazism and Fascism in Europe’, ‘Religion, Identity and Conflict in the Middle East’, and ‘The Middle East: Historical Background and Contemporary Challenges’.

Academic duties

During the academic year 2015-16 I will serve as Deputy Director of Teaching and Postgraduate Exams Officer for the School of International Studies.


Research interests

My on-going research interests include British, EU, and US foreign policy towards the Arab-Israeli conflict generally, and the Israeli-Palestinian question more specifically. The primary focus is the party-political, transnational, regional and international decision and policy-making mechanisms. I am also looking at the legacies of European imperialism and colonialism in shaping the geographical boundaries of the Middle Eastern region, and the complex character of the factors influencing many of the contemporary political issues. In connection with these interests, I am especially attracted by the political and theoretical writing of C.L.R. James, Frantz Fanon, Albert Camus, and Amos Oz.

I am developing a new research interest in the foreign policy of China towards the Middle East and North Africa, in particular the diplomatic principles underpinning the efforts of Beijing towards the nuclear non-proliferation negotiations and peace making. A chief aim is to shed further light on the reasons for the absence of China from a series of peace initiatives, including the Camp David summit of 1978, the Madrid Conference (1991), the Oslo Accords (1993), and more recently, the international Quartet for the Middle East (comprising the EU, Russia, the UN, and the US) in the build-up to, and background of, the Iraq War (2003).


Selected conferences and invited papers/lectures

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC), The European Union Delegation, Beijing, China (21 November 2019). Paper: Red Star over Ramallah and Tel-Aviv: China and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (1949-2019).

5th China and The Middle East and North Africa Conference: Institute of Global Studies, Shanghai University (Co-sponsored by Cappadocia University, Republic of Turkey), People’s Republic of China (17—18 May 2019). Paper: ‘Beijing—MENA Relations and the Israeli-Palestinian Question: When Is Enough, Insufficient?’

Paths of Resistance in the Middle East and North Africa, 14th Conference of the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies (SeSaMO) (31 January –2 February 2019), Department of Culture, Politics and Society, University of Turin, Italy. Panel 34: Trajectories of ‘resistance’: Iran, Syria and Hezbollah in the Syrian battlefront. Paper: ‘‘The Other’, and ‘The Other, Other’: Hezbollah and Iran as Forces of Resistance and Counter-Terrorism?’

Biannual Middle East conference “Trump and the Middle East” (29–31 October 2018), Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Panel 1: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East, —‘Something New in the Offing, Or a Case of More is Less: Wilsonianism into the Trump Era’. 

4th China and The Middle East Conference, Nevsehir Haci Bektas Veli University (jointly organised with Shanghai University), Cappadocia, Turkey, 20-22 June, 2018, ‘Why Do They Hate Us?’: The Potential of Beijing amid U.S. Foreign Policy tilts regarding the Arab-Israeli Conflict in the Post-Trilateralist Age’. 

14th Annual International Conference on International Studies, Athens Institute for Education and Research, 13-16 June 2016, Athens, Greece. Paper, ‘Cross-Cultural Research and Teaching in the Post-9/11 Era: The Case of China’.

The Seventh Asian Conference on the Social Sciences, The International Academic Forum (IAFOR), 9-12 June 2016, Kobe, Japan. Paper, ‘UN Essentials or Reinventing the Wheel: Rising Powers and the decline of Trilateralism in Middle East Peace-Making’.

‘Shall the Twain Meet?: When East looks West to the Middle East (West Asia)’, Invited paper at the conference A New Agenda? Debating the Middle East and Central Asia, Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra, 3-4 July 2015.



Nelson, Ian. ‘Infinite Conditions on the Road to Peace: The Second New Labour Government’s Foreign Policy Approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict after 9/11’, Contemporary British History, Vol. 33, No. 1, November 2018, pp.123-153, DOI: 10.1080/13619462.2018.1535974. 

Nelson, Ian. (2018) ‘When East looks West to the Middle East’ in Emerging Scholarship on the Middle East and Central Asia: Moving from the Periphery, edited by Katlyn Quenzer, Maria Syed, and Elisabeth Yarbakhsh (Lanham: Lexington Books), pp.167-192.

Nelson, Ian. ‘UN Essentials or Reinventing the Wheel: Rising Powers and the decline of Trilateralism in Middle East Peace-Making’, 9 July 2016, International Academic Forum (IAFOR),;

Nelson, Ian. ‘The First New Labour Government’s Foreign Policy-Making towards the Israeli-Palestinian Question: The Formative Years, 1997-1999’, Contemporary British History, Vol. 28, No. 2, June 2014, pp. 121-144, DOI: 10.1080/13619462.2014.893408.

Nelson, Ian. ‘The Middle East’, International Encyclopaedia of Social Policy, Volume 2, Routledge, 2006 (Hardback), pp. 857-860, and pp.854-860 in 2010 (Paperback).

Additional experiences and information

(2011) Invited participant in the Joint Academia-Foreign and Commonwealth Office Initiative Workshop on New Research Agendas for the Middle East, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London (12 September 2011).

(2004-2006) The University of Nottingham representative on the Jewish-Muslim Forum, a Nottingham community-based group established to promote understanding, contacts, and interfaith dialogue.

(2004) BBC3 Television, ‘Conflicts: Israel and the Palestinians’ (subject specialist).

(2003) Discussion document, ‘A Feasibility Study and Analysis regarding the establishment of a Middle Eastern Studies Facility at Nottingham University,’ commissioned by Professor Fiona Broughton Pipkin, Chair of the Middle Eastern Studies Strategy Group, The University of Nottingham.

(1993) At the invitation of Professor James A. Graff (University of Toronto), I attended the Seventh United Nations European Non-Government Organisations Symposium, and the Tenth United Nations International NGO meeting on the Question of Palestine, Vienna, Austria, 23-24 August 1993, and contributed towards writing the Final Declaration Document (Fifth Draft) adopted by the United Nations.