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Headshot of Rabiat Akande

Rabiat Akande

S.J.D. 2019

Clark Byse Fellow

Dissertation Completion Fellow and Graduate Student Affiliate, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University

Teaching Fellow, Harvard College


Navigating Entanglements: Contestations over Religion-State Relations in Colonial Northern Nigeria, 1890 – 1978

My research focuses on the legal history and political theology of Islam, and its relations with the state, society and other religions in Colonial and Postcolonial Muslim Africa. My dissertation examines the struggles over religion-state relations in British Colonial Northern Nigeria, where governance took the form of indirect rule through Islamic institutions. In particular, I explore the paradox according to which the colonial state asserted its “secular” nature at the same time as it co-opted “Islam;” the contestations spawned by this governmental approach; and its consequences for both Muslim subjects and the newly created category of religious minorities, non-Muslims.

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
  • Islamic Legal History
  • Constitutional History
  • African Law and Society


  • 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

  • Harvard Law School, 2018-19 Clarke Byse Fellow
  • Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, 2016, Dissertation Completion Fellow
  • 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


Last Updated: March 10, 2021