Although George Mason University does not currently offer a Ph.D. program in Islamic Studies, members of the Ali Vural Ak Center core and affiliated faculty work closely with doctoral candidates in various departments researching subjects related to the study of Muslim societies and communities, who are featured here.
Kristin Hillers is a Cultural Studies PhD student, currently developing her fields in Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East and Social Movements and Globalization. Her dissertation would attempt to focus on daesh, also known as ISIS in the United States, as a social movement. That is, how it operates, functions, and differs from other social movements in the Middle East, particularly in light of the Arab Spring. The dissertation would also analyze the movement's history, how it developed as well as its relationship to terrorism and politics in the Arab world, focusing specifically on the destabilization of both Iraq and Syria by internal and external factors. It would also discuss how daesh is a product of globalization while at the same time offering an alternative version of globalization. There would also be a chapter on those who convert to the group and how daesh perverts Islam and would highlight the differences between the historical time period that actually existed and the replication of that same period daesh hopes to create. Kristin has a B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies, and an M.A. in Humanities with a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies. Her master's thesis examined utopian political philosophy and rhetoric in post-colonial Egypt, a paper she presented at MAPACA's annual conference in 2015.