This project aims to significantly extend the scope of study of nomadic empires by for the first time incorporating North and South America into the frame, thereby marking a radical historiographical departure.

The existing scholarship on powerful nomadic societies and possible nomadic empires in the Americas is still relatively scarce, and there has been very little cross-hemispheric dialogue between the scholars of nomadic regimes. The PI has published a ground-breaking monograph on a North American nomadic empire, which has sparked comparisons with Eurasian empires. However, uncovering the world-spanning dimensions of nomadic imperial formation requires further research into such powerful equestrian societies of the Americas as the Araucanians/Mapuches, Chiriguanos, Lakotas, Utes, and Apaches. One of the primary objectives of the project is to conduct rigorous empirical research into understudied groups and places and to integrate those findings into global and inclusive narratives of nomadic empires.

Research Topics
Dr Marie Favereau: The Golden Horde

Marie Favereau’s research investigates the connections between Europe, the Middle East and Asia from the 13th to the 16th centuries. She specializes in the history of the ‘Golden Horde’ – the western part of the Mongol Empire which stretched from the Ural Mountains to the Black Sea, and which enjoyed a highly strategic location at the crossroads of Asia and Europe.

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Dr Bryan Miller: The Xiongnu Nomadic Empire

Narratives of nomadic polities are seemingly familiar stories, ones hinged upon fierce and charismatic leaders and presented as fragile fringe entities preying upon the civilized world. Their political formations are deemed historical enigmas that somehow arise despite inherent impediments of mobile pastoral lifeways. Yet these portrayals stem from accounts written by those outside of the steppes looking inward, and their dispositions have guided interpretations of historical records and archaeological remains alike. This is especially true for the world’s first nomadic empire – the Xiongnu of Inner Asia (2nd cent. bc – 2nd cent. ad) – which set the stage for later steppe empires as well as for the treatment of them by those outside of the steppes.

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Dr Maya Petrovich: Anatolian Borderlands

Dr. Petrovich works on post-Mongol political cultures of the Islamic world between the 1258 conquest of Baghdad by Hülegü, the grandson of Chinggis Khan, and the 1514 battle of Çaldıran, when the nomadic ethos purportedly yielded to the sedentary one. She seeks to examine and integrate a wide range of written sources, including those produced by Muslim courtly elites and religious scholars (in Arabic, Persian, and varieties of Anatolian and central Asian Turkic), local Christian communities (in Byzantine Greek, Armenian, Georgian and Syriac), and European travelers (mostly in Latin, Italian, French and Spanish, and occasionally southern and eastern Slavic).

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Dr Irina Shingiray: The Khazar Empire

Irina Shingiray’s research focuses on the Khazar Empire of the second half of the first millennium CE (6th—10th centuries)—a large nomadic imperial confederation, which dominated the Western Eurasian Steppe with multiple and culturally diverse communities and transcontinental trade corridors.  From a relatively small regional subdivision of the vast First Turkish Empire, the Khazar nomadic regime expanded into a major geopolitical power from its center in the plains of the North-Eastern Caucasus and presented a Steppe imperial counterforce to the Islamic Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire. At their strategic location, the nomadic Khazars mediated trade that connected the lands of Northern Europe, the Russian Forest, the Eurasian Steppe, and the empires of Islam and the Byzantines.

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