sitting among stone balbals– the typological name given to these anthropomorphic monoliths– outside of the Regional Museum in Cherkessk, Russia, in autumn 2019
in autumn 2019, I finally visited the Alanic cemetery of Moshchevaia Balka in the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia, Russia; loads of textiles and other organic materials survived in the 7th- to 9th-century graves that the Alans built into this natural sandstone terrace wrapping around the top of a mountain
With my research methodologies grounded in visual analysis, I often travel. Over the past ten years, I have journeyed extensively across Central Eurasia from Bishkek and Baku to Ufa and Ulaanbaatar, from Panjikent and Perm to Tabriz and Termez. On these trips, I study objects in museum collections, visit archaeological sites, and also meet with colleagues who are curators, researchers, archivists, and librarians. Throughout my education, these transformative opportunities would not have been possible without the generous support of travel and research grants, especially having grown up in a working-class family.
In the last few years, I have undertaken several two- to six-week fieldwork trips for dissertation research and other article projects. I traveled to Iran twice (2016, 2018), visiting museum collections in major cities and driving by car through Fars and the Zagros mountains to study Sasanian monuments. I examined Sogdian and Tokharian wall paintings in museum collections on trips to Tajikistan (2016) and Uzbekistan (2018). I have frequently visited Russia for a variety of research activities– four trips alone in 2019– including in Siberia, Transbaikalia, the Southern Steppe, the Urals, and the Northern Caucasus.
Alongside short-term trips, I spent two years during my doctoral program living abroad. I completed my second year of doctoral coursework (in German) in Halle, Germany, at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. There I had the opportunity to work under the guidance of Dr. Prof. Markus Mode and take four courses a semester focused on the art and archaeology of Iran, Central Asia, and the Steppe, a course line-up not available at any other university in the world. In the fourth year of my doctoral program, I began researching and writing my dissertation in Saint Petersburg, Russia, based at the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences and worked with the rich collection of Central Eurasian art at the State Hermitage Museum.