Dr Sara Fregonese BA, MA, PhD

Dr Sara Fregonese

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Associate Professor of Political Geography

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Fregonese is a political geographer with a background in Middle Eastern Studies. Her research is about the relations between geopolitics, security and urban space, and how geopolitical situations and events impact on the everyday life of cities, their built environment and residents. 


BA Oriental Languages and Cultures (Ca' Foscari University of Venice)
MA Cross-Mediterranean Cooperation (Ca' Foscari University of Venice)
PhD Geography (Newcastle)
Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (University of Birmingham) 


The main empirical focus of Dr Fregonese research is Lebanon, where she has twenty years of research and fieldwork experience. However, she have also conducted fieldwork in several other European locations, using a variety of qualitative research methods. She is the author of  War and The City. Urban Geopolitics in Lebanon (Bloomsbury 2019) and of The Radicals’ City. Urban environment, polarisation, cohesion (Routledge 2016, with Ralf Brand). She is currently the Principal Investigator of the ESRC/ANR/DFG-funded research project Atmospheres of (counter-)terrorism in European cities (2021-2023), a mixed-methods study which explores the felt dimensions of contemporary terror threats and counterterrorism measures in the ordinary experience of cities in Europe. 


I am a member of the Higher Education Academy and my teaching practice aims to foster understanding of the spatial and urban implications of armed conflict and terrorism. My teaching draws heavily on my research and produces an interdisciplinary and case-oriented learning and teaching experience for students. I lead and/or contribute to the following modules in the School:

Year 1

03 36619 LC Tutorials and Study Skills for Geographers

03 36261 LC Fieldwork Project Design and GIS


Year 2

03 36298 LI Social and Political Geography

03 36279 LI Statistical methods and tutorials

03 34330 LI Research Labs and Fieldwork: Theory and Practice


Year 3

03 30810 LH Cities and Conflict (module Lead)

03 36270 LH Geopolitics and global challenges (module lead)

03 31220 LH Geography and Planning Research (dissertation)

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Ian Slesinger (ESRC) – completed 2019

Ms Shannon Oates (GCRF) – 2018 (ongoing, theology & Religion)  

Ms Maya Breau (Baxter Ricard Scholarship) – 2021 (starting)


My research has been supported with funding by: Newcastle University, the British Academy (Post-Doctoral Fellowship; Small Grant), Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL), AHRC and ESRC (Open Research Area).  

My research develops in the following areas:

Urban geographies of armed conflict and post-conflict

This substantial strand of my research focuses on the urban manifestations of conflict and post-conflict. It advances intellectual debates on the role of the built environment in conflict, on practices of sovereignty, and on the lived experience of contested cities. This research, originally developed via a doctoral scholarship at Newcastle University, has been subsequently funded by a British Academy post-doctoral fellowship (PDF/2009/428), and resulted in an award-winning monograph (War and the City – Bloomsbury 2019), several sole- and co-authored journal articles, and numerous invited talks.

Urban geographies of counter-terrorism and radicalization in cities

In 2013, I published a co-authored monograph (The Radicals’ City – Routledge) on the role of planning and the urban built environment in political and religious radicalisation, based on ESRC-funded research (ESRC RES-181-25-0028). Recently, I have worked on issues of resilience and the humanities’ role in it as Co-I of an AHRC networking grant (AH/R004331/1), and on the cognate area of counter-terrorism measures and their everyday and felt experience in urban Europe. I am Principal Investigator (PI) of the project “Atmospheres of (counter)terrorism in European cities” (2021- 2023) funded by an Open Research Area (ORA)grant (ES/V01353X/1) funded by ESRC (UK),ANR (France) and DFG (Germany). 

Other activities

  • 2016 -  Chair of the Political Geography Research Group, Royal Geographical Society
  • 2016 -   Member, Editorial Board, Fennia
  • 2015 -   Foreign member of the board of studies, Doctoral Programme in Geopolitics and Geoeconomics, Niccolò Cusano University, Rome, Italy 
  • 2014 -   Editorial board, Geopolitics journal
  • 2014 -   Editorial board, “Geopolitics, bodies, materials” book series, Rowman and Littlefield International 
  • 2012 -   Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers. 

Referee for:

  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Italy's National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes (ANVUR) 

Peer review for:

Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Geographical Journal, Cultural Geographies, Journal of Urban Technology, Security Dialogue, Urban Geography, Geography Compass, Geopolitics, Progress in Planning, Political Geography.



  • FREGONESE, S. (2019) War and the city: Urban geopolitics in Lebanon. London: Bloomsbury (IB Tauris Imprint). ISBN: 9781780767147, 256 pages. Winner of the RGS-IBG Political Geography Research Group / Political Geography Journal book award
  • Brand, R. and FREGONESE, S. (2013) The radical’s city. Urban environment, polarisation, cohesion. London: Routledge. ISBN : 9781409451600, 216 pages

Journal articles

  • FREGONESE, S., Laketa, S., 2022. Urban atmospheres of terror. Political Geography 96, 102569. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2021.102569

  • FREGONESE, S., 2021. Shockwaves: Atmospheres beyond the Conflict City/Ordinary City Divide. Conflict and Society 7, 26–41. https://doi.org/10.3167/arcs.2021.070103

  • Laketa, S., FREGONESE, S., Masson, D., 2021. Introduction: Experiential Landscapes of Terror. Conflict and Society 7, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.3167/arcs.2021.070101

  • FREGONESE, S. (2017) Affective atmospheres, urban geopolitics and conflict (de)-escalation in Beirut Political Geography 61: 1-10.
  • Ramadan, A. and FREGONESE, S. (2017) Hybrid Sovereignty and the State of Exception in the Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon Annals of the American Association of Geographers 107 (4): 949-963.
  • FREGONESE, S. and Ramadan, A. (2015) “Hotel Geopolitics. A research agenda” Geopolitics 20 (4): 793-813.
  • FREGONESE, S. (2012) "Between a refuge and a battleground: Beirut's discrepant cosmopolitanisms" The Geographical Review 102(3): 316-366
  • FREGONESE, S. (2012) "Beyond the ‘weak state’: hybrid sovereignties in Beirut" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 30(4): 655-674.
  • FREGONESE, S. (2012) “Urban geopolitics, 8 years on. Accounting for hybridity, the everyday, and peace”. Geography Compass 6 (5):290-303.
  • FREGONESE, S. (2009) “The urbicide of Beirut? Geopolitics and the built environment in the Lebanese civil war”, Political Geography 28 (5): 309-318.
  • FREGONESE, S. and Brand, R. (2009) “Polarisation as socio-technical phenomenon. A bibliographical review”, Journal of Urban Technology 16(2-3): 9-34.

Chapters published in books

  • FREGONESE, S. (2020)“Atmospheric urban geopolitics” in Goldhill, S. (ed) Being Urban. London: Routledge.
  • FREGONESE, S. (2019) “‘A demarcation in the hearts’: frontier urbanism and Beirut’s May 2008 clashes”. In Yacobi, H. and Nsasra, M., eds. Routledge Handbook on Middle Eastern Cities. London: Routledge
  • FREGONESE, S. (2017) Foreword, in Rokem, J. and Boano, C. eds. Urban Geopolitics. Rethinking planning in contested cities. London: Routledge
  • FREGONESE, S. (2015) “Everyday political geographies”, in Agnew, Mamadouh, Secor, Sharp (eds.) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Political Geography. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell
  • FREGONESE, S. (2005) “‘Il Libano è tornato.’ Guerra, ricostruzione e spettacolo nel nuovo centro di Beirut”. In Minca, C. (ed.) Lo spettacolo della città, Padua: Cedam.
  • FREGONESE, S. and Minca C. (2004) “Rêve(il) de la ville: geografie della ricostruzione a Beirut”, in Minca, C. (ed.) Orizzonte Mediterraneo, Padua: Cedam.

Short Commentaries

  • FREGONESE, S. (2020) The port of Beirut: vital, historic centre of a complex city The Conversation, 5 August 2020 (English and French)
  • FREGONESE, S. (2017) “How a Sectarian Territory Was Made: (Re) Mapping the Dual Kaimakamate of Mount Lebanon (1842–1860).” Bulletin for the Council for British Research in the Levant 12 (1): 60–61.
  • Rokem, J., FREGONESE,S., et al. (2017), Interventions in Urban Geopolitics. Political Geography 61: 253-262.
  • FREGONESE, S. (2017) “English: lingua franca or disenfranchising?”. Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 195(2), 194-196.
  • FREGONESE, S. (2013) Waiting for the spillover. Why reinforcing borders and strengthening sovereignty won’t keep Lebanon out of conflict. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space open site.
  • FREGONESE, S. (2013) Mediterranean geographies of protest. European Urban and Regional Studies 20 (1) Introduction to guest edited special issue
  • FREGONESE, S., Martin, D. and Ramadan, A. (2009) The new geopolitics of responsibility in Barack Obama's Cairo speech, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 27(6): 951 – 955. 

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