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Dr Fanny BessardPhD(Paris IV), MLitt(Lyon II), MA(Lyon II)


Fanny Bessard

Dr Fanny BessardPhD(Paris IV), MLitt(Lyon II), MA(Lyon II)


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Research interests

I am a Historian of the Islamic Middle East with expertise in Classical Arabic and archaeological experience in the Levant, Koweit, the Caucasus as well as Central Asia. My research focuses on the foundation of the Muslim world from 700 to 1000, shedding light on the roots of institutions, ideas and beliefs still present in Islam. 

I was a Newton fellow at SOAS in 2013/15 and then an Early Career Leverhulme fellow at the University of St Andrews in 2015/16. 

In my forthcoming book An Economic History of early Islam (700-1000), I trace the roots of modern economy in the early Islamic Caliphate. The sophistication of production and trade differed from the more agrarian and localised economies of Carolingian Europe. A key aspect of this research has been to explore how this economic dynamism influenced human behaviour, individually and communally. I investigate the way in which economy characterised social hierarchy, class identity and the evolution of gender roles after the rise of Islam. 

In my new project, I will build on my expertise in early Islamic history and focus on the Caucasus from Late Antiquity to the end of Seljuk rule in 1200. This will be a chance to study the often-ignored Islamisation of Armenia and to assert its importance as a place of significant Christian-Muslim encounters between Byzantium and the Islamic Caliphate. More specifically, it will illuminate the evolving living patterns of local communities in the Caucasus in the context of shifting power dynamics from 500 to 1200. It will situate the role of the Caucasus more clearly into the wider history of the Middle East, shedding light on the relationship between the imperial authority and local aristocracy, as well as elucidating the legacies of the Iranians and Arabs in the complex cultural identity of Armenia.




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Postal address:
71 Cotham Hill
United Kingdom