Dr. Harrison Akins, from Maryville, TN, is a Subject Matter Expert in the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), created by Congress in 2008 to provide independent oversight of U.S. reconstruction funding and programs in Afghanistan. Dr. Akins has supported SIGAR’s oversight activities within Afghanistan’s security, governance, and economic development sectors. He previously served as the Senior Policy Analyst for South Asia on the Professional Staff of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent U.S. government agency that monitors restrictions on religious freedom abroad. While managing USCIRF’s South Asia portfolio, he reported on religious freedom conditions in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma/Myanmar, India, and Pakistan and served as the primary advisor on South Asia for the Commission. Before joining government service, he was a Global Security Research Fellow at the University of Tennessee’s Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy, and before that he served as an Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow & Program Coordinator at American University’s School of International Service, working with the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed.
Dr. Akins’ areas of expertise include conflict, governance and development, South Asian politics, and U.S. foreign policy. His research, relying on both quantitative and qualitative methods, has been published in a number of scholarly journals, including Terrorism and Political Violence, Asian Security, Asian Survey, Small Wars & Insurgencies, Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, Oxford Middle East Review, and Journal for Muslim Minority Affairs. A frequent contributor to the media, his essays have been featured in the Atlantic, Los Angeles Review of Books, Foreign Policy, BBC, Al Jazeera, USA Today, Huffington Post, India Times, the Guardian, and the Tennessean, among other outlets. He is the author of The Terrorism Trap: How the War on Terror Escalates Violence in America’s Partner States (Columbia University Press, 2023) and Conquering the Maharajas: India’s Princely States and the End of Empire, 1930-50 (Manchester University Press, 2023).
Dr. Akins received his PhD in Political Science, with concentrations in International Relations and Public Policy, from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also earned a Graduate Certificate in Global Security Studies from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics, an MA in Philosophy & Classics (the Great Books Program) from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, and a BA in History and Music Performance from American University in Washington, DC.