Sectarianism, Proxies and De‑sectarianisation

SEPAD (the Sectarianism, Proxies and De-Sectarianization Project) based at Lancaster University’s Richardson Institute is a collaborative project aimed at tracing the emergence and evolution of sectarian animosity in global politics. Led by Professor Simon Mabon and Dr Edward Wastnidge, SEPAD seeks to critically reflect on the  conditions that give rise to sectarian violence and transnational relationships along religious lines with the aim of creating space for a ‘de-sectarianisation’ of socio-political life. In pursuit of this, SEPAD brings together 50 world renowned experts and early career scholars  from over 20 countries to engage in critical discussions, the production of knowledge, impact activities, outreach activities and media engagement around questions of sectarianism, regional politics, and desectariranization. 

SEPAD has received funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Henry Luce Foundation to engage in the following projects: 

1. A critical exploration of sectarianism in the contemporary Middle East and beyond, focussing on Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Yemen in the Middle East and Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and India from outside the region. 

2. A critical exploration of ideas and processes of desectarianization in Bahrain, Iraq and Lebanon. 

In engaging with these projects, SEPAD operates at the intersection of disciplines including Political Science, Law, Criminology, Sociology, Political Geography, Anthropology, and Linguistics. We also work with a number of prominent organisations working on the Middle East.

We collaborate with a number of prominent academic and policy-focused institutions working on the Middle East. Our collaborative work also includes working in partnership with a number of local organisations in the Middle East, including NGOs,  academic institutes, and the wider scholarly community in the region. We are keen to explore additional areas of collaboration. If you are interested or have ideas, please do let us know.

If you would like to know more about SEPAD or to get involved, please contact Professor Simon Mabon at You can also our progress on twitter or subscribe to our newsletter.