Gevork M. Avedissian Associate Professor of Armenian History and Civilization
Alison Vacca is a historian of early Islam working on the caliphal provinces Armenia and Caucasian Albania. According to ʿAbbasid-era Arabic geographies, Armenia included what is now the modern Republic of Armenia and eastern Turkey. The neighboring Caucasian Albania (Arrān) stretched over the modern Republic of Azerbaijan and eastern Georgia. Her work centers on several themes, including intercultural transmission of historical texts, quick-changing alliances in moments of intercommunal violence, and intermarriage across ethnic and religious lines.
Vacca’s first monograph, Non-Muslim Provinces under early Islam: Islamic Rule and Iranian Legitimacy in Armenia and Caucasian Albania, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017 and received the 2018 prize from the Central Eurasian Studies Society. In this book, she relies on Armenian and Arabic sources to investigate the regional memories of the pre-Islamic Sasanian past as a way to discuss the role of Iranian traditions in narrating caliphal history. She also recently completed a collaborative project to edit and translate an eighth-century Armenian history of the early Caliphate based on the oldest extant manuscript, as well as editions and translations of the correspondence attributed to the Umayyad caliph ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (r. 717-20) and the Byzantine emperor Leo the Isaurian (r. 717-41). She is currently working on another monograph project exploring the relationship between ethnicity, religion, gender, and rank in self-representation in various descriptions of intermarriage along the Khazar frontier.
In addition to her research agenda, she edits al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā, the open-access, peer-reviewed journal of the Middle East Medievalists.