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simon portrait for website v1 15.06.20 .

About Simon

Political Geographer and Pop Geoculture Enthusiast.

My passion, in particular, is popular geopolitics: the discourse of the non-elite through mediums such as movies, anime, music and social media, and how this contributes to ideas of identity and geography.  

I initially worked in the Humanities and Social Sciences Foundation department as Senior Teaching Fellow, co-authoring the program, before joining the Writing Center in 2018. 

I am currently completing a PhD is in conjunction with the University of Exeter that focuses on Kazakhstani citizens perceptions of the New Silk Road. This thesis is a study of non-elite perceptions of China’s major geopolitical project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), in Kazakhstan. It will research whether public opinion considers the BRI beneficial to Kazakhstan and/or Kazakhstani citizens. It will be a mixed-methods study utilising qualitative interviews and focus groups, quantitative population surveys and blog/social media analysis, with critical popular geopolitics as a theoretical lens. Its aim is to, by analysing attitudes to the BRI, add to the discourse of China’s rise and its perception in Kazakhstan, and place that research within global studies of grassroots reactions to China’s major geopolitical project.

Prior to joining Nazarbayev University in 2015, I was a professor at RULE university and Pannasatra University in Phnom Penh teaching modules on International Relations, International Environmental Law, Globalisation and Academic Writing. I have previously taught EAP at Royal Holloway, Kanagawa University and RMIT University, and I authored an English Research Skills program for an NGO assisting the Cambodian senate in democratic governance. I also designed an Academic Writing skills module at Pannasatra University. Before starting my academic career, I worked for an elite secretarial unit in the British Government, overseeing legal reform.  

I write a fortnightly newsletter on the New Silk Road, which is a collection of current web news pieces concerning the Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asia, mostly concentrating on Kazakhstan. I compile and edit the Kazakhstan and the New Silk Road website:

I am a member of the Exeter Central Asian Studies Network and co-editor of their website: 

My other research and projects can be found at

I like cats, guitars, 301s and obscure pop facts. My favourite colour is gold. 

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