Shirin Akiner

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Shirin Akiner Mitchell
Born(1943-06-16)16 June 1943
Died6 April 2019(2019-04-06) (aged 75)
OccupationHistorian, literature scholar
Spouse(s)David Mitchell
Academic background
Alma materLondon University
Academic work
InstitutionsSchool of Oriental and African Studies
Main interestsCentral Asia and Belarus
Notable worksReligious Language of a Belarusian Tatar Kitab: A Cultural Monument of Islam in Europe

Shirin Akiner (16 June 1943 – 6 April 2019) was a scholar of Central Asia and Belarus. She was a Research Associate at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).


Shirin Akiner was born in 1943 in Dacca, British India, to a Pakistani diplomat father and a Welsh mother,[1] she studied at London University, gaining a first degree in Slavonic philology and Turkish language and literature (Ottoman and Modern). She gained her doctorate in 1980 from University College London as a researcher of the heritage of the Belarusian Lipka Tatars, with her dissertation titled "The religious vocabulary of the British Library Tatar-Byelorussian Kitab".[2]

Her first husband was killed in a car crash soon after the birth of her son Metin. In 1973 she married David Mitchell.[3]

Akiner produced many scholarly works, particularly on Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, she was a member of editorial and advisory board of Journal of Central Asian and Caucasian Studies published by the U.S.A.K., and a chair of the British-Uzbek Society[4].

She was also a researcher of modern Belarusian literature, including the literature of the Belarusian minority in Poland, published articles in the Journal of Belarusian Studies and maintained active contacts with the Belarusian community in Britain, including Fr. Alexander Nadson.[5] In 1984, she published a book of English translations of miniature works by the Belarusian writer from Poland, Sokrat Janowicz.[5]

In 2005, human rights groups, non-governmental organizations and the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, accused her of producing a biased and "propagandist" report on the Andijan massacre in Uzbekistan.[6] Murray called on Colin Bundy, the director of SOAS, to take action against her for allegedly promoting falsehoods, but the latter refused on the ground that Murray's views were "unsubstantiated".

Akiner died on 6 April 2019.[7]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Religious Language of a Belarusian Tatar Kitab: A Cultural Monument of Islam in Europe, 457 pp. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2009
  • Violence in Andijan, 13 May 2005: An Independent Assessment, 51pp. Johns Hopkins University, Uppsala University (Sweden), 2005. ISBN 91-85031-08-9.
  • The Caspian:Politics, Energy, Security, 405pp. RoutledgeCurzon (UK), 2004. ISBN 0-7007-0501-5.
  • Tajikistan: Disintegration or Reconciliation?, 95pp. Royal Institute of International Affairs (London), 2001. ISBN 1-86203-061-8.
  • The Formation of Kazakh Identity; From Tribe to Nation-State, 83pp. Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1995. ISBN 1-899658-03-3.
  • Resistance and Reform in Tibet edited by Robert Barnett and Shirin Akiner : C.Hurst 1994, Indiana University Press.


External links[edit]