While studying for a BA in History at Oxford, Dr Marsham's attention was caught by ‘late antiquity’—the centuries between Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when the Roman Empire collapsed and monotheist religion became dominant in both Europe and the Middle East. This led him to stay on at Oxford for an MPhil in Classical and Medieval Islamic History, at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, and to travel in Egypt and Syria.
After further language study abroad, he returned to Oxford to work on a DPhil in Islamic History, and continued to travel in the Middle East. While completing his DPhil, he taught at the University of Sheffield, and then held research fellowships at the Universities of Cambridge and Manchester, before coming to Edinburgh’s department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies in 2008.
Dr Marsham is interested in the pre-classical history of the Islamic world (Islam, as it were, before ‘Sunnism’ and ‘Shiism’), and in developing perspectives on Islamic history that take full account of the late antique context in which Islam took shape.
He is particularly interested in bringing ideas from the social sciences to bear on understanding historical change in the Middle East, especially changes in political culture.
Specific topics of current interest to him include the development of ideas about sacral kingship and monarchy in the Islamic world, rebellion and state responses to it, and the religious and political uses of historical memory.
This article was published on Aug 20, 2014