Asia and the Middle East

The Department of History has nine permanent members of staff and three research fellows, whose expertise ranges across East, South, Southeast and West Asia.

In addition to examining the impact of empires in Asia and of Asian cultures on Europe, our work also challenges Eurocentric approaches to the study of the past. Our collective strengths lie in the fields of cultural, social, political, environmental and medical history, and we are united by a concern with the material, cultural and political engagement of Asian people and polities with modernity. As such, our work makes contributions to area studies, and to debates about the causes and consequences of globalization.

Centre column image for Asia and Middle East cluster

We specialize in:

  • the history of medicine and health in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka (part of a major project funded by The Wellcome Trust)
  • the formation and influence of Asian diasporas, notably in Eastern and Southern Africa, the Caribbean and Western Europe
  • the social history of space through transport, landscape and ecology; the interaction of European and Asian belief systems
  • state formation, with a particular focus on the practices of colonial bureaucracies
  • the origins and effects of political constructs, such as nation, community, and empire, and
  • ideologies, such as anti-imperialism, communism and Bushido

Our work uses archival, textual and oral sources in West European and Asian languages, including Bengali, Bhojpuri, Chinese (modern and classical), Hindi, Japanese (modern and classical), Konkani, Marathi, Persian, Portuguese, Sinhalese, and Tamil.