Dr. Emily Jane O’Dell has strong contacts with an impressive number of politicians, academics, scholars, religious leaders, NGOs, and diplomats in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.  She has advised U.S. Senators, been invited to speak at the Iranian Foreign Ministry, and spoken at universities and think tanks around the world.  She has a nuanced understanding of the complex and shifting challenges which shape government and private organizations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Living in the Middle East for over half a decade, she had a front row seat to ongoing developments in the so-called “Arab Spring.” Teaching on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak in China gave her rare insight into China’s subsequent launch of “Cultural Revolution 2.0” in both the People’s Republic of China and Tibet. As an expert on religion and politics, she is a frequent guest speaker for study tours (in Iran, Turkey, Central Asia, Africa, and India) for institutions like Harvard University, Columbia University, and the Commonwealth Club of California.

For her work on Islam and politics, she has been an Edward A. Hewett Policy Fellow, a Fulbright-Hays Fellow, a Harvard Research Fellow, a Harvard Traveling Scholar, a Title VIII Research Fellow, an IREX Fellow, an American Center for Mongolian Studies Fellow, American Institute for Indonesian Studies, and a State Department Critical Language Fellow.

Dr. O’Dell has taught Islam / Sufism at Columbia University and the American University of Beirut.  She has been a Research Scholar in Law and an Islamic Law and Civilization Research Fellow at Yale Law School in the Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization and an editor of SHARIASource at Harvard Law School. 

While she was as a Research Fellow for the Islamopedia Initiative at Harvard University, she collected fatwas in a variety of languages from around the world related to politics, gender, terrorism, spiritual and doctrinal concerns, sectarian divisions, family relations, medical ethics, and economics. Recently, she spoke at Tehran University on her collection of hundreds of COVID-19 fatwas.

She is available to offer her extensive knowledge on the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to the media, private companies, government organizations, NGOs, and think tanks around the world on a variety of topics related to politics, religion, Islamic law, and gender.