The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

Shannon Nash

PhD Program

Fields of Study Geographical Fields:

Canada; United States

Fields of Study Thematic Fields:

Conflict, Violence and Genocide; International Relations; State, Politics, and Law

Areas of Interest:

Sleeper Cells, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Intelligence, Al Qaeda and affiliated movements, National Security, 20th Century American Foreign Policy, and International Relations


Program and your year in that program: PhD, Year 3

Major and Minor Fields:
Major Field: USA, 1877 to present
Minor Field: Terrorism and Security
Minor Field: International Relations, 1815 to 1945

Supervisor: Professor Wesley Wark

Previous degrees:
B.A. (Honours) University of Waterloo, M.A. University of Waterloo

Description of dissertation and research interests:
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, fears over so-called “sleeper cells” have pervaded countries around the globe. But such worries are not new – the idea of enemies assimilating into a society and living quietly before rising up violently has been feared for centuries and has been an enduring aspect of American national security thought. My dissertation examines how and why Al Qaeda sleeper cells emerged as a focal point of American national security and paranoia.



  • B.A. (Honours) and M.A., University of Waterloo


  • Earlier Cohorts