Research

My research focuses on the period of Late Antiquity (c. 200-700), within the western Indian Ocean. In particular, I am interested in the interaction between economic and political networks and how these can be understood through a combination of material and textual analysis. In Late Antiquity the western Indian Ocean witnessed the sharing of significant political characteristics, with similar economic consequences, across many interconnected societies. Within this sphere I focus especially on the use of coins as proxies for economic and social activity, and as sources through which to examine how different regions reacted to the presence of objects that were both familiar and visibly foreign. In all of my research I am drawn to the constant interplay of the global with the hyper-local, defined by the experience of the individual, the object or the site.

Imitation Byzantine coin, probably early sixth-century. Madras Government Museum.

Within this wider Indian Ocean world I am especially interested in understanding processes of state formation and state transformation as they took place in peninsula India and in the Roman Empire. Seeing the Roman Empire in the context of a global set of interactions helps to understand its unique characteristics and in turn provides a lens through which to examine the role the Roman Empire has played as the archetype for theories about state structures, political development and economic infrastructure in other pre-modern environments.

Through engagement with post-colonial narratives in relation to south Asia, and close interaction with numismatic collections across the globe (especially in India, the US, Sri Lanka and Austria), I have also begun to apply this approach to collecting histories, in the belief that coins provide one of the most exciting sources for global history, but still need to be understood as bodies of texts – libraries or archives –, as well as either series or singular items.

On this site you can find out more about my publications, papers I have given and conferences I have organised, and my projects, including research funding I’ve been awarded, consultancy work, and BEMA: the Birmingham East Mediterranean Archive, which I co-founded and administer. You can also find out about some research networks that I’m part of and my current publications in progress.