Vish Sakthivel

Postdoctoral Associate
115 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06520-8206
Fields of interest : 

North Africa; the politics of Islam; contentious politics and social movements; affect and meaning in discourse and mobilization; power and hegemony

Dr. Vish Sakthivel is a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale’s Council on Middle East Studies at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. She is also Lecturer in the Department of Political Science. Dr. Sakthivel received her doctorate in Modern Middle East Studies from the University of Oxford (St. Antony’s College).

Her research lies at the intersection of anthropology and political science, with a focus on Islamist mobilization in the contexts of Algeria and Morocco. Her current book project, an adaptation of her doctoral thesis, examines the meanings and affects forged in Islamists’ political/social practices and discourses as they respond to—even attempt to resist—modes of authoritarian domination. Drawing on several years of ethnographic research in Algeria and Morocco—funded by a Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) Mellon Grant, among others—the manuscript explores the ongoing contestations in North Africa and beyond over the imagined Algerian/Moroccan future, the role of religion in public life, and the changing contours of legitimacy, identity, and belonging.

Formerly a foreign policy analyst in Washington, D.C. and former Peace Corps Volunteer to Morocco (‘08-‘10), Dr. Sakthivel is also interested in the history of U.S.-led foreign policy on North Africa including the broader effects of global policy discourse on North African politics and culture, and the role of Islam in statecraft. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy (minor in Race Studies), as well as a Master’s in Public Policy (minor in Arab Studies) from Georgetown University. Prior and concurrent to her doctoral studies, she worked as a senior analyst at two major think tanks at which time she published the monograph Al-Adl wal-Ihsan: Morocco’s Islamist Challenge (Washington Institute Press, 2014). She continues to be a regular source on Algeria and Morocco to the media and to the U.S. and foreign governments, and has been published in Foreign AffairsThe Washington PostThe National Interest, among other publications, and with the Brookings Institution, the Hudson Institute, and the Middle East Institute.

As an educator and mentor, she is committed to ensuring that BIPOC students, women, and first-generation college students have fully actualized academic and professional journeys that surmount systemic racial, gender, class and other positional inequities.