Alison Vacca, assistant professor of history, joined our department in 2014. Vacca is a historian of the medieval Caucasus and the early Islamic world. Her research focuses on stories that break down the traditional narrative of the South Caucasus in ethnic terms, bringing the histories of Armenians, Arabs, Albanians, Georgians, and Persians into dialogue.
“I am particularly interested in the long-standing cultural and political ties between the Caucasus and Iran, the role of medieval women as cultural mediators in ethnically- and religiously-diverse settings, and transmission of historical accounts across linguistic lines,” Vacca says.
Her new book, Non-Muslim Provinces under Early Islam (Cambridge University Press, 2017), relies on Arabic and Armenian sources to trace the memories and legacies of the pre-Islamic Iranian empire in the Islamic Caliphate. Using the example of the South Caucasus, this approach embraces Christian-majority provinces as part of (instead of distinct from) both the Islamic empire and the Iranian cultural sphere.