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Professor Michael Dumper

PhD (Exon)

Emeritus Professor in Middle East Politics

Prof. Dumper’s research interests are the Permanent Status Issues of the Middle East peace process, the Arab-Israeli conflict, religious institutions in the Middle East and the urban politics of the Middle East. He was a holder of an ESRC Large Grant Award entitled Conflict in Cities and the Contested State (2007-2013) and was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for 3 years (2015-2018) This latest book,  entitled Power, Piety and People is a comparative study of conflicts in "holy" cities, is a result of this research.

Power, Piety and People: The Politics of Holy Cities in the 21st Century

This is a 3-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship.  See website for more details and ongoing research

More on project as a University Research Case Study.

Since 2020, Dumper, funded by the Heinrich Boell Stiftung and the Palestinian Economic Policy Research Center, has been engaged in research on UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, with a particularly focus on the sustainable funding of UNRWA.  See Research for more details.


Research interests

The Arab-Israeli conflict, Permanent Status Issues in the Middle East Peace Process especially refugees and Jerusalem, future options for Palestinian refugees, divided cities in the Middle East, the politics of Jerusalem, the archaeology, conservation and politics in urban Middle East, holy cities and holy places in the Middle East, Muslim institutions, particularly the waqf system, cities in the Middle East and North Africa.

Podcast of presentation Challenges Facing UNRWA in and Uncertain Future, at the Kenyon Institute, Jerusalem, 30th August, 2016.   View here.

Press Release on presentation entitled UNRWA in 2030 convened by Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights on Wednesday 1st September, 2016 in Bethlehem.


New student-centred project on UNRWA – UNRWA in Focus – a series of student authored Briefing Papers examining key issues facing UNRWA and making comparisons with other global agencies and regional actors.(2021)

Power, Piety and People: The Politics of Holy Cities in the 21st Century
This is a 3-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship.  See website for more details and ongoing research:

Recently completed projects
Completed in March 2016: Study for the UK’s Department of International Development, entitled Challenges Facing UNRWA in an Uncertain Future. This is an overview of the main international and regional shifts and how they will impact the international donor community’s support for the UN agency responsible for the protection of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. Read more.

Completed project:
Conflict in Cities and the Contested State: Everyday Life and the Possibilities for Transformation in Belfast, Jerusalem and Other Divided Cities

Papers produced for the Palestinian Economic Policy Research Center since 202 include:





Research supervision

The Arab-Israeli conflict,
Permanent Status Issues in the Middle East Peace Process especially refugees and Jerusalem,
EU and the Middle East,
Future options for Palestinian refugees,
The politics of Jerusalem,
The archaeology, conservation and politics in urban Middle East,
Holy cities and holy places in the Middle East,
Muslim institutions, particularly the waqf system,
Divided cities in the Middle East

Other information

Guardian Articles   Palestine Studies at Exeter – Mick Dumper

Three main areas: Jerusalem, Palestinian Refugees and Diplomacy. Not all are current.

1) Jerusalem


  • Conflict and Cities and the Contested State. A £3.1million 5 year project funded by Economic and Social Research Council in cooperation with Queen’s University Belfast and Cambridge University. The project is a comparative and interdisciplinary study of relationship between city-level and national level conflicts in Belfast and Jerusalem.  Dumper is co-coordinating research in Jerusalem and supervising the fieldwork of a Research Fellow (5 years) and a Research Assistant. Further details on
  • Jerusalem Old City Initiative. Coordinated by the University of Windsor, Dumper has advised, contributed and authored commissioned papers examining the feasibility of a Special Regime for the Old City of Jerusalem. Specific focus was on the religious aspects and the management of the Holy Places. Involved some Track 2 meetings with Israeli and Palestinian community leaders and policy-makers.  Dumper did not agree with all the recommendations of the Final Report.
  • Toledo International Centre for Peace (CITpax).  In a project supported by the Church of Norway on how an inter-religious council can be established and strengthened in order to improve the possibility of finding solutions for the Arab-Israeli conflict,  Dumper wrote a paper entitled "An Inter-religious Council for Jerusalem".  The paper also examines the links between such a council and special arrangements for the Old City of Jerusalem , 
  • Ad hoc advisory work and briefings with government bodies and NGOs. FCO briefings on situation in Jerusalem.


  • MA in Jerusalem and the Arab-Israeli conflict (not current)
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office Training workshop on “Negotiating Jerusalem”.
  • MA module in Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution which includes simulated negotiations exercise on Jerusalem.


2) Palestinian Refugees


  • Palestinian Displaced Persons in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Refugee Task Force of the European Union’s Office of the Special Envoy for the Middle East Process. Dumper headed team of 5 researchers and wrote report.
  • Comparative Studies of the Palestinian Refugee Situation: Transferring

Modules taught



Professor in Middle East Politics

Formerly Middle East coordinator for Quaker Peace and Service, consultant to Welfare Association (Geneva), and Senior Researcher with the Institute for Palestine Studies (Washington, DC).

Since completing his PhD in 1993, under Nazih Ayubi, Professor Dumper has taught in the Politcs Department at Exeter University. As well as his academic research, he has participated in a number of academic and policy study groups involving Palestinian and Israeli academics and officials, ranging in subjects from Permanent Status Issues in the Middle East Peace Process, to planning issues for Jerusalem and to the future of Islamic waqfs in Palestine. These were funded, amongst others, by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (USA), International Development Research Centre (Canada), Olaf Palme International Centre(Sweden) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK). He has also conducted consultancies with the European Commission, International Development and Research Centre (Canada)and the Adam Smith Institute International Division on aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In 2002, Professor Dumper was awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship to work on issues concerning the future of Palestinian refugees. In 2003 and 2005, he received two awards in conjunction with Dr Wendy Pullan of Cambridge University, from the Economic Social Research Council, to work on a project entitled: Conflict in Cities: Architecture and the Urban Order in Divided Jerusalem. In 2007, he and Dr Pullan, together with Professors James Anderson and Liam O'Dowd of Queen's University , Belfast, were awarded a 5-year ESRC grant to work on a comparative project entitled Conflict in Cities and the Contested State: Everyday Life and the Possibilities of Transformation in Belfast, Jerusalem and Other Divided cities.

At the same time Professor Dumper has collaborated with the International Research and Development Centre, Ottawa on issues concerning Palestinian refugees and rights-based approaches to the Middle East conflict leading to two IDRC funded workshops at Exeter. One entitled Transferring Best Practice: The comparative study of refugee return programme with reference to the Palestinian case. The other : International Law and Middle East peace: A Rights-based approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (See publications) He also contributed to a project with the University of Windsor, Ontario, entitled the Jerusalem Old City Initiative. In 2011 he collaborated with the Toledo International Center for Peace to produce recommendations for developing the role of the Council for Religous Institutions in the Holy Land. Currently he also convenes a experts forum in conjuction with the Office of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA.

 Latest Book:


Jerusalem Unbound: Geography, History, and the Future of the Holy City

Michael Dumper

Columbia University Press

June, 2014
Cloth, 336 pages, B&W Photos: 12, , Maps: 15, , Graphs: 10,
ISBN: 978-0-231-16196-1
$35.00 / £24.00

Jerusalem’s formal political borders reveal neither the dynamics of power in the city nor the underlying factors that make an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians so difficult. The lines delineating Israeli authority are frequently different from those delineating segregated housing or areas of uneven service provision or parallel national electoral districts of competing educational jurisdictions. In particular, the city’s large number of holy sites and restricted religious compounds create enclaves that continually threaten to undermine the Israeli state’s authority and control over the city. This lack of congruity between political control and the actual spatial organization and everyday use of the city leaves many areas of occupied East Jerusalem in a kind of twilight zone where citizenship, property rights, and the enforcement of the rule of law are ambiguously applied.

Michael Dumper plots a history of Jerusalem that examines this intersecting and multileveled matrix and in so doing is able to portray the constraints on Israeli control over the city and the resilience of Palestinian enclaves after forty-five years of Israeli occupation. Adding to this complex mix is the role of numerous external influences—religious, political, financial, and cultural—so that the city is also a crucible for broader contestation. While the Palestinians may not return to their previous preeminence in the city, neither will Israel be able to assert a total and irreversible dominance. His conclusion is that the city will not only have to be shared, but that the sharing will be based upon these many borders and the interplay between history, geography, and religion.


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