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The Fabric of Time: Cotton and the Transformation of the Late Antique Economy

Anna Kelley, University of Birmingham, Junior Fellow 2018–2019

I completed and defended my dissertation, “Commodity, Commerce and Economy: Re-evaluating Cotton Production and Diffusion in the First Millennium.” By examining the evidence for the spread of cotton use through Africa and the Middle East in relation to concordances in ecology and environmental adaptation, agricultural technologies, and textile cultures, I identified the presence of exchange networks that were independent of, but overlapped with, those leading to and from traditional trade centers. I argue that these networks, often construed as subsidiary to the larger systems of the Mediterranean world, were in fact the result of locally driven economic strategies, and were integral to the development of global interactions in late antiquity. I also completed a book chapter on the academic contributions of David Talbot Rice to the study of Constantinople that will appear in Discovering Byzantium in Istanbul: Scholars, Institutions, and Challenges. I wrote two journal articles on gender, forced labor, and violence in the late antique and medieval textile industries, which I am in the process of submitting to journals, and a conference paper I will deliver at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in July 2019.