Research

My current research focuses on the period of Late Antiquity (c. 200-800 CE), 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 this period 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.

Through engagement with post-colonial narratives in relation to South, Southeast and East  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. Following the publication of my current monographic project, The Western Indian Ocean in Late Antiquity (due for submission 2022/23), I intend to turn my focus to the Indian Ocean (east and west) c. 800-1200.

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.