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Assistant Professor Akin Unver

Former Robert Bosch Foundation Visiting Fellow

Assistant Professor Akin Unver

Former Robert Bosch Foundation Visiting Fellow

Profile Contents


Akin Unver is an assistant professor at Kadir Has University’s department of International Relations. With a background in conflict studies, he is interested in the study of radicalization and mobilization through geospatial and geopolitical tools. At OII, he will be working on how democratic and non-democratic states engage in online surveillance and what different tools and processes their respective citizens invent to counteract such monitoring. With a specific focus on Turkey, Iran, Russia and China, Akin’s research looks at the role of privacy-security debate on shaping these countries’ Internet policies.

Akin completed his PhD at the University of Essex, Department of Government. His dissertation ‘Defining Turkey’s Kurdish Question: Discourse and Politics Since 1990’ was awarded the Middle East Studies Association’s Malcolm Kerr ‘best dissertation in the field of social sciences’ award and was awarded departmental nomination for the European Consortium for Political Research’s best dissertation in the field of comparative politics. This study is published in 2015 from Routledge Series in Middle East Studies. Akin was a Marcia Robins – Wilf Young scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in 2007-08 and a dual post-doctoral research at the University of Michigan’s Center for European Studies and the Center for Middle East and North African Studies in 2008-2010. He was awarded the position of Ertegun Lecturer at the Princeton University’s Near Eastern Studies Department, teaching courses such as History of the Middle East and Conflict-Terrorism Sociology – he was also the first scholar to retain the Ertegün chair for two consecutive years at Princeton.

Akin’s geospatial conflict mapping has been featured on the New York Times and Financial Times. His article titled ‘Schrödinger’s Kurds: Transnational Kurdish Geopolitics In The Age Of Shifting Borders’ (Journal of International Affairs. Vol. 69, No. 2 – Spring/Summer – 2016) has been the largest geospatial data study on non-state armed group activity. In addition his piece titled ‘How Turks Mobilized Against the Coup The Power of the Mosque and the Hashtag’ (Foreign Affairs. September, 2016) is one of the first studies that quantitatively demonstrate how traditional (mosque) and digital (Twitter) social networks work in tandem during crisis mobilization.

Having published in Foreign Affairs, The Diplomat, Columbia Journal of International Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Middle East Policy and Yale Journal of International Affairs, Akin has also spoken and lectured at invited events at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, Georgetown University’s Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service, London School of Economics’ Middle East Center and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He regularly appears for commentary on BBC World News, National Public Radio (NPR), Reuters, France 24, Finnish National Broadcasting Company, Al Jazeera International and CNN International, including a one-on-one interview with Christiane Amanpour.


Research Interests

Geospatial analysis, geopolitical data, privacy-security debate, surveillance.

Positions at the OII

  • Robert Bosch Foundation Visiting Fellow, January 2017 - July 2017