BA History (London Queen Mary), PhD East Asian Studies (Durham)
Senior Research Fellow in History

Academic Background

I took the intercollegiate History degree at London (Queen Mary), studying medieval European history and – having discovered China along the way - as much of Asia as I could crowbar in. I studied modern and classical Chinese in Taiwan in order to do a PhD in East Asian Studies at Durham. I held a JRF at St Johns, Oxford, then taught at a small public liberal arts college in Wisconsin for two years, before taking up a lectureship in Chinese history at Newcastle. I moved to Birmingham as Professor of Medieval History in 2011, the first non-Europeanist to be appointed to a post of this title (though not the first to hold one).

Undergraduate Teaching

The Mongols and China (special subject).

The Silk Roads (second-year option).

Postgraduate Teaching

(North)Eastern Eurasia in the ‘Middle Period’

‘Borderland’ interactions

Mobility and urbanism


Interdisciplinary approaches

Research Interests

My research started from a fascination with the ground-level functioning of borderlands, especially in the Liao (907-1125), and from there has expanded in both time and space to the Silk Roads and the neighbours of the Liao on all sides – but I am no longer at ease with the concept of borders. I work with texts, with archaeologists and with medievalists studying all parts of the globe. My current projects embrace historical analysis to accompany archaeological fieldwork on urban sites in Inner Mongolia, and a research network on ‘Defining the Global Middle Ages’. During my research fellowship I will be writing a global history of eastern Eurasia between the 7th and the 14th centuries.


Subject notes for courses taught at Jesus College:

See also Professor Standen's profile on the University of Birmingham's website.