I am a cultural historian with an interdisciplinary background in archaeology, art history, religion, and cultural anthropology. My work cross disciplinary boundaries in order to explore the role of art and artifacts in past cross-cultural encounters, change and exchange. In my research I apply object-centered analysis to the production and patronage of material and visual cultures, from stone sculpture to glass vessels, in order to reveal the many ways that objects mediate cultural exchange and connectivity, past and present. I believe that past visual and material cultures present fertile ground to reflect on core questions of the human experience, including the way that ethnicity, race, and gender are constructed and perceived. The historical themes and topics I focus on—e.g., diaspora and exile, cultural change and exchange, and religious practice and representation—encourage reflection on of the variety of human experience, past and present, and of the constructedness of boundaries that we erect between ourselves and others. I received my Ph.D. from Duke University in the History of Judaism with a minor in Classical Studies (2017), and have held fellowships at the University of Michigan (Frankel Center for Judaic Studies) and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Dept. of Greek and Roman Art).

My current research considers the role of visual culture in mediating cultural contact in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, with a particular focus on diaspora communities. My current monograph, Image and Empire: Jewish Diaspora and Visual Arts in the Late Antique Mediterranean, examines the artistic output of Jewish diaspora communities in the ancient Mediterranean basin to shed light on the varieties of diaspora experience and the diversity of Jewish life, 200 C.E. – 500 C.E. During this period, the Jewish diaspora spanned the Mediterranean basin, with thriving communities in Italy, Spain, Asia Minor, Greece, Africa, and the Near East. A wide variety of media was produced and consumed within these communities, including monumental architecture, mosaics, sarcophagi, epitaphs, gold glass, and frescoes. The remains of this deep visual engagement encompass multiple spheres of human activity—from synagogues to necropoleis, communal to individual—and provide broad geographic and cultural scope to explore questions about art, identity, and difference in the ancient world. I examine this rich evidence in chapters devoted to five themes: 1) cultural and religious learning, 2) politics, power, and display, 3) religious practice and representation, 4) death and commemoration, and 5) collective myths and memories of homeland. Across these themes, I engage in a broader exploration of the ways in which art has been enlisted in diasporic projects of connecting past and present, host and homeland, and communities across the late antique world. 

Some questions I am thinking and writing about:   
  • What role did visual and material culture play in the formation of communities in the late antique Mediterranean?
  • How did Jews navigate the intensely visual world of the ancient Mediterranean?
  • How did the relative tolerance and multicultural environment of the Mediterranean in late antiquity impact the development of Jewish visual culture and aesthetics?
  • What did it mean to ‘be Jewish’ in the context of the cultural world of the late antique Mediterranean?
  • What, if anything, is Jewish about ‘Jewish art’ in late antiquity?
  • What role does shared visual and material culture play in shaping collective memories and myths of the homeland in diaspora?
  • Is a geographically ‘centered’ narrative of trauma and loss is reflected in the art of Jewish diaspora?