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Dr. Adrian Hänni is a political historian who focuses on the contemporary history of intelligence, propaganda, and political violence.


With an academic background in history, economics, and philosophy, as well as capabilities in seven languages, Hänni brings a global, interdisciplinary perspective to his body of work that connects the recent past with the present. Hänni’s goal is to build broader comprehensive awareness of how manipulative political practices are used to subvert democratic systems and processes. For public and private stakeholders to better navigate the risks and opportunities behind some of the world’s top political threats, Hänni aims to better equip them with deeper insights and a more precise understanding of their historical roots.

In aggregate, Hänni’s research analyzes the historical role and mechanics of socio-political manipulation and responses to these challenges. This includes understanding the relationship between influence through mass media, the rise of transnational political violence, and the emergence of informal international governance networks.

Until recently, historians have rarely analyzed extreme political violence through a transnational lens. Hänni developed a comprehensive theoretical framework that builds on History, Political Science, Sociology and International Relations paradigms to study transnationality as a key aspect of modern political violence. This reconceptualization of transnationality is a methodological innovation that can be applied to other forms of transnational activities, including counterterrorism and anti-radicalization measures.

Hänni co-edits the Journal for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies (JIPSS), published by the Austrian Center for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies (ACIPSS). It is a bilingual (English-German) journal regarded as the leading journal on intelligence studies in the German speaking world.

He has received research fellowships, grants, and visiting appointments with universities, think tanks, and foundations from around the world, including the Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University (Washington DC); the Institute for History at the University of Leiden (Netherlands); German Historical Institute (Washington DC); Centre for the Study of Violence at the University of Newcastle (Australia), and the Swiss National Science Foundation (Switzerland).

Hänni has collaborated with the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies in Washington DC and its director, Prof. Yonah Alexander, one of the pioneers of terrorism studies. He currently sits on the International Advisory Board of its journal Terrorism. He is an active member of the International Intelligence History Association (IIHA), a regular participant/speaker at the Zagreb Security Forum, a member of the British International Studies Association (BISA), and an active member of BISA’s Critical Terrorism Studies Working Group.

Hänni is committed to supporting the next generation of scholars, as well as expanding access to historical knowledge among the broader public and other stakeholders outside academia. Hänni has developed a track record of teaching excellence as a top evaluated lecturer at FernUni Schweiz (“Distance Learning University Switzerland”) and the University of Zurich, where he has been teaching classes on modern political history, political violence and historical science methods. He also reaches general audiences as a lecturer for Volkshochschule (“People’s University”) in Zurich.

Hänni provides expert commentary and political analysis for international and Swiss media outlets, including CBS 60 Minutes (USA), The Guardian (UK), ZDF (Germany), Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland), SRF (Switzerland), Middle East Eye (UK), The Diplomat (USA), Cicero (Germany), SWR (Germany), Le Point (France), Sol (Portugal), and Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia). He is regularly invited to deliver addresses at universities, conferences, and other institutions, which include presentations of research results to policy makers and security officials. Editorial and speaker topics include historical and contemporary analysis of intelligence, political violence, terrorism, propaganda, disinformation, informal diplomacy, secret elite networks, socio-political movements, and power structures.

Dr. Hänni is currently based in Zurich, Switzerland.

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