George Mason University does not currently offer a Ph.D. program in Islamic Studies. However, core and affiliate faculty members of the Ali Vural Ak Center work closely with doctoral candidates from various departments researching subjects related to the study of Islam and Muslim societies who are featured here below.
Hale holds an M.A. degree in philosophy and an M.S. degree in conflict analysis and resolution form Bogazici University and George Mason University respectively. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate at the department of Sociology and Anthropology in the globalization track. Her dissertation focuses on Muslim women in the diaspora and is entitled “Gender and Diaspora in the Making of Pious Subjectivity”. More specifically, her work elucidates the processes and disciplining mechanisms through which women create a particular type of religious selfhood. Through formal and informal interviews, she studies the biographical, social, political, economic, ethnic and local contexts that shape women’s religious choices in the United States. Her ethnographic approach allows her to capture an in-depth understanding of how pious women experience the world within their real and imagined communities.
Kristin Hillers is a Cultural Studies Ph.D. 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.