In conversation with Dr Elizabeth Lambourn
Elizabeth is a historian of Islamic South Asia and the Indian Ocean world. She is particularly interested in the mobility of people, things and ideas across this area in the medieval and early modern periods. Like many people who end up working on “watery” places, Elizabeth set out on land with a first degree in Art History from the University of Edinburgh, followed by a PhD in Islamic art and archaeology from SOAS, University of London. It was during her PhD research that she first dipped her toe into the Indian Ocean world and she has since made this her distinctive area of expertise. She is currently Reader in South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies at De Montfort University. During 2011-13 she held a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship and she is currently a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies.
From December 2011 she has been the principal investigator for the AHRC Research Network Grant ‘A Persian Church in the Land of Pepper - Routes, Networks and Communities in the Early Medieval Indian Ocean’ (see https://sites.google.com/site/medievalindianocean/).
Elizabeth has always had wide disciplinary interests encouraged by a childhood spent in Italy and France and later two years living in Japan and Egypt. She feels that these early experiences were formative of her present research interest in mobile people and the hybrid linguistic and cultural worlds they create. Since her PhD, Elizabeth’s own work has increasingly moved beyond material culture into history more broadly defined. She now describes herself as a historian who uses textual and material sources in equal measure, and often in combination.
Being a peer reviewer
When asked why she had wanted to join the Peer Review College (PRC), Elizabeth answered:
I knew from my personal experience in submitting my grant application to the AHRC that the AHRC doesn’t have many reviewers in my specific research area. The study of maritime spaces and history in maritime contexts is burgeoning worldwide, even if the Indian Ocean per se remains a comparatively “niche” field in the UK at present, so I wanted to help and offer my experience. Being a College member will also enable me to help develop my field within the UK.
Elizabeth found the AHRC Peer Review College training day a very useful introduction to the College remarking that it had improved her understanding of how the AHRC processes applications and grants. Elizabeth said:
It is good to become part of a community in which we members can share our experiences because working in an emerging research area can feel isolating at times. Since the training day she feels better equipped to assess applications and to offer her colleagues advice when putting funding bids together.