•Report by Halimah Olamide
Nigerian lawyer and Assistant Professor at Canada’s Osgoode Law School, Rabiat Akande, has announced that she will be launching an African International Legal History Initiative.
The Harvard trained legal scholar made this known on her Linkedin profile on Tuesday, stating that she will be launching the initiative with the support of a fellowship and generous grant award from the Gerda Henkel Foundation.
“Thrilled to share that I’m launching an African International Legal History initiative at the African Institute of International Law with the support of a fellowship and generous grant award from the Gerda Henkel Foundation.
“Honored by this incredible opportunity!” She said.
Akande works in the fields of legal history, law and religion, constitutional and comparative constitutional law, Islamic law, International law, and (post) colonial African law and society.
She obtained her Bachelor of Laws from the University of Ibadan, graduating with a First Class Honors and at the top of her class, furthering her studies at the Nigerian Law School from which she also graduated with a First Class Honors.
Her current research explores struggles over religion-state relations in comparative contexts and illuminates law’s centrality to one of modernity’s most contested issues–the relationship between religion, and the state, and society–while also interrogating law’s complex relationship with power, political theology, identity, and socio-political change.
These are at the issues at the forefront of her book, Constitutional Entanglements: Empire, Law and Religion in Colonial Northern Nigeria (Cambridge University Press, 2023), which traces the emergence of “secularism” as a constitutional idea of ordering religion-state relations in early to mid-twentieth century British Colonial Northern Nigeria, and grapples with the postcolonial legacy of that inheritance.
She also is an Academy Scholar at Harvard University Academy for International and Area Studies where she was in residence from 2019 to 2021.
She graduated from Harvard Law School in 2019 with her dissertation, “Navigating Entanglements: Contestations over Religion-State Relations in British Northern Nigeria, c. 1890-1978” receiving the Law and Society in the Muslim World Prize. At Harvard University, Dr. Akande held the Clark Byse fellowship at the Law School, and was a Dissertation Fellow and Graduate Student Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
She also served as an editor of the Harvard International Law Journal. Akande taught courses at Harvard, both at the Law School, and the Department for African and African American Studies.
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She served as the adjunct faculty at Northeastern University School of Law. Prior to her graduate work, Akande was an associate at G. Elias Solicitors and Advocates, Lagos.
Her work is and has been supported by fellowships and grants including the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the US National Science Foundation (as part of a Law and Society Association International Research Collaborative), Cravath International Research fellowship, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs fellowship, the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World research grant, among others.
She currently leads the African International Legal History Project at the African Institute for International Law.