At the core of my research is an ongoing effort to grapple with the relationship between imperialism and the vast world of material things. My current book project, Imperial Matter: An Archaeology of the Satrapal Condition, develops an archaeological framework for understanding the endurance of imperial formations that centers on how things–from objects to built and natural landscapes–contribute to the making of political life under empire. Until now, the ancient Persian Empire and its northern province of Armenia have provided the empirical terrain for detailing that relationship. That is, underlying my research is a long-term project to bring archaeology and the past of Iran, the Caucasus, and wider Eurasia into the broad conversation on imperialism that has long linked the humanities and social sciences. Doing so requires an archaeological theory of empire that takes seriously the role of things in the making of imperial sovereigns and subjects. My interest in these themes extends to the contemporary past and present in the Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet Caucasus.
I received my Ph.D. in Classical Art & Archaeology from the University of Michigan in 2008 and joined Cornell in 2010 as a Hirsch post-doctoral fellow in Archaeology. As an Assistant Professor in Near Eastern Studies, I have continued my work as co-director of a long-term collaborative field project in the Republic of Armenia called the Project for the Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies (Project ArAGATS), and as co-director of Cornell’s Landscapes and Objects Laboratory.