Yasmin Hassen is both a “Melbournian at heart” and a ‘third culture adult’ – an Oromo woman who came to Australia as a young child via Djibouti, speaking Somali, And with that complex identity she hopes to bring an equally nuanced understanding to the study of terrorism and radicalization both at ‘home’ and abroad.
Having completed a Bachelor of Arts (Global) with stints abroad, Yasmin continued on to pursue a postgraduate diploma and a Masters by research at Monash University. For her thesis, she tapped into her own experience as a former student of an Islamic school.
“On one side, there was a lot of discussion about the role of Islamic schools as a radicalization tool, a security threat, justifying greater scrutiny,” Yasmin says. “On the other side, parents send their children to these schools in the hopes of engendering a storm Muslim identity. My research showed that neither was the case.”
Arriving at ANU, Yasmin initially decided to give the university a try with a Master of Diplomacy. “That was a good experience particularly being in Canberra,” she says. “But with the interest primarily in identity politics, diaspora communities and security, I was asking myself: Why aren’t there more Muslim women in these spaces?”
Yasmin’s doctoral research looks at the relationship between foreign ad and terrorism, the costs of insecurity and the political economy of aid since 9/11. She is asking some pointed questions about what motivates donors and recipients: “I am starting with the assumption that just because you give money doesn’t mean you’re going to make the place more secure,” she says. “What conditions are agreed to, how likely are they to increase security or insecurity, for whom, and at whose expense?”
Yasmin’s primary case study is Somalia. “Why is that, after decades of receiving foreign aid, Somalia is still labeled a failed or fragile state?” she asks. She sees her main challenges as access and the lack empirical data: “I don’t know whether I’ll get access to certain spaces and certain people.”
With all that complexity, Yasmin is grateful for the working environment at ANU, and the accessibility and flexibility it provides. “The NSC’s public seminar program is also very interesting – this place attracts some big names,” she says.
“I appreciate the fact that Crawford School is both visibly and academically diverse. I want to study and work in a place that reflects the values and diversity of the world we live in, at that’s what the school facilities,”