Dr Johan Franzén is a historian of the modern Middle East. He joined UEA in 2009 after finishing a PhD in modern Middle Eastern history at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where he also completed an MA (Distinction) in Middle Eastern Studies. Before coming to England, he read Middle Eastern history and Arabic at Lund University in his native Sweden whence he holds Filosofie Magisterexamen (Fil. Mag.) and Filosofie Kandidatexamen (Fil. Kand.) degrees.

Dr Franzén is the author of Red Star Over Iraq: Iraqi Communism Before Saddam (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2011), which in 2012 was shortlisted for the Book Prize of the British Association of Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES). The Book Prize judges commented that the book was “a solidly researched and insightful single-volume history of the Iraqi Communist Party from its inception to its annihilation by Saddam” and “a highly readable and instructive history of secular political ideologies in Iraq”.


Dr Franzén specialises in the political history of the Arab East (al-Mashreq) – i.e. Egypt, the Levant (Bilād al-Shām), Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula.  He has particular expertise in the modern history of Iraq – a topic he has been researching for the past decade, but also political movements such as Arab Communist Parties – especially the Iraqi Communist Party (al-Ḥizb al-Shuyūᶜī al-ᶜIrāqī) and the British mandate-era Palestine Communist Party (Palestinishe Komunistishe Partei)  – and also Arab Socialism (e.g. Baᶜthism, Nasserism). He has further researched issues like national identity in the Arab world, pan-Arabism and regional types of nationalism (waṭaniyyah) – in particular in the case of Iraq. In addition, Dr Franzén is an expert on British imperial history in Iraq and the wider Middle East.

Academic Background

  • 2004-2009 PhD Middle East History,  School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS),University of London              
  • 2003-2004 MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies (Distinction), SOAS
  • 2002-2003 Filosofie Magisterexamen (? MA),  Lund University, Sweden
  • 1996-2002 Filosofie Kandidatexamen (? BA),  Lund University
  • 2009-2012 Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice,  University of East Anglia

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