Subject groups/Research projects
Arabic Agronomical Manuals and the Agriculture of Islamic Spain
I am studying agronomical literature from Islamic Spain in an attempt to re-assess the place of these works in Andalusi society. These texts have often been studied with little reference to archaeological evidence and without due consideration given to a scholar's conception of his field of study and his relationship with it.
In an attempt to adopt a more balanced approach, I am investigating this literature from three angles: the first is analysing how Andalusi agronomists conceptualised their fields of study and perceived their connection with earlier scholarly traditions; the second is considering the social environment in which these texts were written and the important role of patronage; the third is comparing the content of these works with evidence of actual agricultural practice in order to put these works into context.
I hope that this research will shed light on the learned agronomical culture of the Andalusi elite and determine to what degree their works were representative of contemporary agricultural practice.
Other Research Interests
I am also interested in the development of early Sufism. My MPhil research was an analysis of the Arabic biographies of the ninth-century Baghdadi Sufi, Abu 'l-Husayn al-Nuri, examining how his depiction has been manipulated by successive generations of Sufis for specific purposes. I have also been working on a translation of his only known treatise, Kitab Maqamat al-Qulub.
My other interests include open source technologies for the humanities.