The Team

Michael Dumper is Professor in Middle East Politics, University of Exeter, UK. His research is primarily on future options for Palestinian refugees and the city of Jerusalem. He is author of The Future of the Palestinian Refugees: Towards Equity and Peace (Lynne Rienner, 2007); editor of Palestinian Refugee Repatriation: Global Perspectives (Routledge, 2006). In addition to his most recent book, Jerusalem Unbound: Geography, History and the Future of the Holy City (Columbia University Press, 2014), he is also author of The Politics of Sacred Space: The Old City of Jerusalem and the Middle East Conflict, 1967-2000, (Lynne Rienner, 2001) and The Politics of Jerusalem Since 1967 (Columbia University Press, 1997). In both these fields he has advised the EU, the UK and Canadian governments and the UN. He has just completed a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2015-2018) comparing religious conflicts in cities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In this area he has edited Contested Holy Cities: Urban Dimensions of Religious Conflicts (Routledge, 2019) and is preparing a new book entitled Power, Piety and People: Holy Cities in the 21st Century for publication by Columbia University Press in 2019.

Jack Williams-Sharkey is a Research Assistant completing a work placement as part of a Master’s course in Conflict, Security, and Development at the University of Exeter. He studied History at Undergraduate level, writing a dissertation on the interactions between public and private memory practices in post-genocide Rwanda and developing his research interests in the area of post-conflict reconstruction, also considering the parallel experiences of refugees and internally displaced persons and the challenges of reconstructing national unity, and particularly national identity, in the aftermath of civic conflict. At Master’s level, he is interested in the practical capabilities of the UN and NGOs to aid conflict resolution and in post-conflict nation building. Furthermore, he is interested in the way that politics and domestic policies affect international responses to humanitarian crises and the ability of the international community to support those in need, with this role offering the opportunity to study the impact of such politics on the world’s longest running refugee crisis.

Ela Oldfield is an undergraduate at the University of Exeter studying BA French and International Relations. As well as having studied Middle Eastern politics as part of her degree course, she has taken part in the Union of Jewish Students Real Deal project in Israel and Palestine which aimed at understanding a variety of perspectives on the Arab-Israeli crisis. She has also carried out voluntary work in Calais and Lesvos with the NGOs Refugee Community Kitchen and Refugee4Refugees. These experiences have shaped her interest in the plight of Palestinian refugees, in addition to the wider refugee crisis. Alongside her work on the Focus On UNRWA project she is writing a dissertation on UN involvement in the resolution of the Sierra Leonean civil war. She is particularly interested in multilateral institutions, the role they play in international affairs and how they may evolve in the future. Following graduation, she intends to learn about the current context of the Arab-Israeli conflict in greater depth through voluntary or intern work in this topic area.

Alex Westlake is a final year undergraduate at the University of Exeter studying towards a BA in Politics and French. She has taken a particular interest in Middle Eastern affairs throughout her degree, taking modules focusing on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the role of religion in international politics and conflicts. In addition to this, her research interests include the human rights discourse specifically regarding refugee rights and she is part of the Paperboat Movement, a student-led project raising awareness of the plight of refugee children seeking to reunite with their family once they have sought asylum. Alongside Focus on UNRWA, she is writing her dissertation on decolonial discourse and analysing the impact of western centricity on international politics and human rights discourse. In her final year, she has started a university-wide project aiming to decolonise the curriculum within the politics department. This project has gained funding from the University of Exeter and hopes to publish a report at the end of the academic year.