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Harrison Akins, from Maryville, TN, is a PhD candidate in Political Science. He earned a BA in History from American University, an MA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. Prior to coming to UT, he was an Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service, working with the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed. While at American University, he worked on two major research projects with Ambassador Ahmed: The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam (Brookings Institution Press, 2013); and Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity (Brookings Institution Press, forthcoming 2018) which involved fieldwork in 10 European countries over a period of two years. He also served as the Associate Producer and Director of Cinematography for the documentary film Journey into Europe which premiered at the ISNA Film Festival in Chicago in 2015.
His on-going research interests include intra-state conflict, terrorism, minority discrimination, Islamic culture and politics, South Asian politics, and US foreign policy. At UT, he works under the supervision of Professor Krista Wiegand. He is also a two-time recipient of the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship to study Urdu in Lucknow, India. A frequent contributor to the media, his writings have appeared in a number of outlets, including Foreign Policy, BBC, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, India Times, Christian Science Monitor, the Guardian, and The Tennessean.