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Leyla Tiglay


Leyla Tiglay

PhD Candidate

Areas of Expertise

  • History of Decolonization in Africa and the Middle East
  • International History of the Cold War
  • History of Technology and Environment
  • History of Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
  • U.S. Foreign Policy History
  • European History in the World
  • Intelligence History
  • Environmental Justice and Colonialism


  • MA Political Science, Boston University (2018)
  • MA International Studies and Diplomacy, University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (2015)
  • BA International Relations Istanbul University, School of Political Science (2003)

Leyla Tiglay is a Ph.D. candidate specializing in the confluence of international history of decolonization and the history of technology and environment. Her regional focus spans the international history of Africa, U.S. foreign policy, and French colonial empire. Currently, she serves as an Ernest May Fellow in History and Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs (2022-2024). She is also a Fellow at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies. In the past, Leyla has been the recipient of predoctoral fellowships from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Center for Grand Strategy at the Bush School of Government.

Leyla’s project explores the influence of major decolonization crises on early Cold War nuclear politics, shaping the international nuclear regime we know today. Her dissertation specifically examines the nexus of decolonization in Africa, France's nuclear tests in the Sahara, and anti-nuclear movements, all set against the backdrop of Great Power diplomacy marked by the Geneva and Test Ban negotiations of the late 1950s. This project brings new insights into overlooked aspects of African colonial and postcolonial history, particularly those related to nuclear issues affecting the continent.

This research blends grassroots historical forces in the decolonizing world with top-level nuclear politics. As a scholar with an interdisciplinary background, Leyla aims to integrate international history with elements of technological studies, environmental history, intelligence history, and international security studies.

Leyla's work has been supported by the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin, the Wilson Center Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, the Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Society of Fellows Program at The Ohio State University. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked and studied in various countries, including Türkiye, Belgium, Cameroon, and the United Kingdom.






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