Dr. Emily Jane O’Dell is an Associate Professor at Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute in the People’s Republic of China and an editor of SHARIAsource at Harvard Law School. She has been a Resident Fellow in Islamic Law in the Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School and spent over half a decade teaching in the Middle East at the American University of Beirut as the Whittlesey Chair of History and Archaeology and at Sultan Qaboos University in the Sultanate of Oman. Stateside she has taught at Columbia University, Brown University, and Harvard University — where she received an award for excellence in teaching. She received her BA, MFA, MA and PhD from Brown and a Masters in Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies from Columbia. She completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University in the Humanities Center and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations under the direction of postcolonial theorist Professor Homi Bhabha. As a Research Fellow for the Islamopedia Initiative at Harvard, Emily collected fatwas from around the world in multiple languages. In addition to having taught Islam stateside and abroad in Beirut, she has also had the rare experience of speaking on Islamic affairs at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Muftiate of Turkey.
For her in-country field research on Islamic law and Sufism, Emily has been an Edward A. Hewett Policy Fellow (Tajikistan & Afghanistan), a Fulbright Fellow (Indonesia), a Harvard Traveling Fellow (Iran), a Columbia University Pepsico Fellow (Uzbekistan/Karakalpakstan), an IREX Fellow (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic & Hungary), an American Center for Mongolian Studies Fellow (Mongolia), an American Council Fellow (Turkmenistan), American Institute for Indonesian Studies Fellow (Indonesia), and a State Department Fellow (Tajikistan). For her archaeological fieldwork in Central Asia, she preserved Sufi shrines on the Silk Road and excavated the medieval Islamic bazaar of Merv in Turkmenistan.
In addition to her academic publications, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Al Jazeera, NPR, Salon, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, Counterpunch and Jadaliyya, and she is a global mentor for the Coalition for Women in Journalism. She regularly performs Javanese gamelan music in concert at Lincoln Center, Asia Society, and with the masters in Java. She also does advocacy work in the Middle East with child refugees, young people with mental illness, and people with disabilities. She has been a guest speaker for Harvard, Columbia, and the Commonwealth Club in the Islamic Republic of Iran, East Africa, India, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.