1) A Persian Church in the Land of Pepper - Routes, Networks and Communities in the Early Medieval Indian Ocean. 1 December 2011-30 September 2013, Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator Dr. R. Tomber The British Museum, and large network of international scholars. £35,974.66 (AHRC contribution) or £44,968.32 (FEC).
This is funded by an AHRC Network Grant; the research network was initiated in recognition of the pressing need for research into the Indian Ocean world before 1500 and the need to do this through multidisciplinary and trans-regional collaborations. The network gathers over 25 international scholars from Japan via the UK and India through to the USA to work on the first holistic study of the Kollam plates, a unique set of mid-9th century land grants made to an Eastern Christian Church at this south Indian port. Among the core themes of the network are issues of legal extraterritoriality and legal encounter, cultural translation and inter-faith cooperation through religious patronage. The first network workshop, to produce a revised edition and English translation of the Tamil grant will take place at The British Museum on 1 and 2 October 2012; the final workshop is scheduled for summer 2013. The papers from the final workshop will be published alongside the revised Tamil text and English translation of the core document as a multi-author volume on 9th century Indian Ocean communities and networks with myself as the editor and author of the Introduction.
2) West Asia in the Indian Ocean 500-1500 CE., Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, 1 October 2011 - 30 September 2013. £85,859
Funded by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship West Asia in the Indian Ocean 500-1500 CE is a scholarly text which will write a social and cultural history of West Asian diasporas in the Indian Ocean over the critical millennium from the rise of Islam/Arab expansion across Europe and Asia in the early 7th century to the first large scale entry of European powers into the Indian Ocean during the late 15th century. The research breaks radically with established disciplinary structures by focusing on a West Asian “diasporic family” rather than on single communities or faiths, and rejects tired land-centred perspectives in favour of a maritime centred viewpoint. These approaches make this an original and ambitious project in terms of its geographical reach, timeframe and the multi-disciplinarity of its approaches and subject matter. The research contributes towards the much needed “deep history” of the relationship between West Asia and the Indian Ocean, a history which also contributes to our understanding of the extended Indian Ocean diasporas in contemporary Europe and North America. The manuscript is scheduled for completion in autumn 2013.