I’m a social historian, working particularly in the late and post-Roman world (third through seventh centuries CE). I’ve spent a fair bit of time studying rural communities in late antiquity: how they worked, what strategies, institutions and structures they possessed for maintaining equilibrium and managing conflict, and what they did when things went wrong. This has led me to consider the social dynamics of disasters in the period: what factors made particular communities vulnerable or resilient in the face of potentially catastrophic natural hazards, military incursions, famines, or disease, and how those communities might have experienced, responded to, and recovered from such events. These questions are part of a broader exploration of the complex, dialectical relations between human populations and the environments in which they live, which places the project of social history in conversation with environmental studies and landscape archaeology.
Master of Environmental Studies, University of Pennsylvania (2014)
Ph.D. (Classics), St John's College, Cambridge (2002)
M.Phil. (Ancient History), University of Sydney (1997)
B.A. (Ancient History and Archaeology), University of Auckland (1994)
Roman social, economic, agrarian and legal history, particularly in the late antique period
Non-elite and marginal populations, especially in rural contexts
Disasters, their causes, impacts, implications, and aftermaths
Interactions between human populations and their physical environments
Legacies of ancient Rome in American cultural, political, and intellectual discourses
Roman Peasant Project, Cinigiano, Tuscany (codirected with Kim Bowes, Mariaelena Ghisleni, and Emanuele Vaccaro)
Constructing Communities in the Late Roman Countryside, Cambridge University Press (2011).
"Slavery in the Late Roman World", in K. Bradley and P. Cartledge, eds., The Cambridge World History of Slavery: The Ancient Mediterranean World, Cambridge University Press (2011), 482–509.
"Civil War? What Civil War? Usurpers in the Historia Augusta", in C. Damon, B. Breed and A. Rossi, eds., Citizens of Discord: Rome and its Civil Wars, Oxford University Press (2010), 87–101.
"Contextualizing Colonatus: The Origo of the Late Roman Empire," JRS 97 (2007) 155-175.
"Exploring Connectivity by Modeling Mobility around a Roman Landscape in Tuscany", (co-authored with J. Mathieu, A. Arnoldus-Huyzendfeld, A. Pattachini, and M. Ghisleni).
"Dimensions of Disaster in the (late) Roman world: the Vesuvius eruption of 472 CE"
"How to treat an Emperor: Norton I in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco"
(Undergraduate) Ancient Rome; Structures of the Roman Empire; Disasters in the Ancient Mediterranean World
(Graduate) Problems in Roman History; Roman Law; Ancient Economies