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Rabiat Akande

Rabiat Akande

S.J.D. 2019

Graduate Fellow, LL.M. Advisor

Graduate Student Affiliate, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University

Teaching Fellow, Harvard College


The Secularism Question: Religious Freedom in British Colonial Nigeria, 1841-1960

My dissertation intervenes in the debate over the place of religion in the Nigerian state. Traditionally, this debate has been framed as pitting secularism against religious ideology. Starting from the mid-19th century, I reclaim the lost history of the debate by showing the theological dimensions of the secular position and the secularity of the religious position. I reveal how these seemingly opposing ideas are interdependent and mutually constitutive, and, how both could be understood in part, as projects of power and identity.  By reconstructing the Nigerian history and making comparative analogies, I provide an insight into global struggles over the role of religious values and identities in political formations, both national and transnational.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • International Law and Identity with Professor David Kennedy, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • Legal and Political Theory with Professor Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School
  • Comparative Constitutional Law: Constitution Design for Divided Societies with Professor Vicki Jackson, Harvard Law School
  • Anthropology of Laws with Professor John Comaroff, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

First Year Reading Lists for the Above Fields

Additional Research Interests

  • Law and Religion
  • Mediation
  • Islamic Legal History
  • African Customary Law


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. 2019
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. Program 2012-2013 (requirements fulfilled, degree waived)
  • Nigeria Law School, Nigeria, 2011
  • University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 2009

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, 2016, Graduate Student Affiliate
  • Northeastern University, 2016, Lecturer, International Law
  • Harvard College, 2016, Teaching Fellow, Yoruba as a Foreign Language
  • Harvard Law School, 2016, Teaching Assistant, Mediation
  • Harvard Law School, 2015, Teaching Assistant, Collaborative Law
  • Harvard Law School, 2013-2016, Graduate Program Fellow, LL.M. Advisor

Additional Information

  • Languages: English, Yoruba, Arabic (basic)

Last Updated: September 28, 2016