Amanda Respess is an assistant professor of premodern world history who specializes in the exchange of medicines and other long-distance trade goods on the Maritime Silk Road. Her work examines the material culture of premodern trade networks in the Persian Gulf, South China Sea, and Java Sea and investigates the long duration of Persianate presence in the eastern Indian Ocean region. She is particularly interested in the intersections between the lived experience of maritime travel, medical material culture, the development of Islamicate science, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Her work engages a critical museum studies approach to trace the afterlives of long-distance maritime trade artifacts from the Indian Ocean World and decolonizes heretofore-segregated histories of global science. Her current book project draws from an archive of shipwreck artifacts recovered from the seafloor between the 9th and 14th centuries to examine the premodern exchange of medical goods and knowledge between Iran and China, and how Islamicate artifacts have been represented in Western museums. She earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology & History (2020) and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies (2020) from the University of Michigan.
Areas of Expertise:
- Premodern World History
- The Maritime Silk Road
- Maritime Trade and Shipwreck Material Culture in the Indian Ocean World
- Islam in China and Southeast Asia
- Premodern Persianate World
- Medical History, Medical Anthropology
- Critical Museum Studies
Her publications include:
“Revisiting the Date of the Java Sea Shipwreck from Indonesia,” co-authored with Lisa C. Niziolek, Gary M. Feinman, Jun Kimura, and Lu Zhang, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Volume 19, 2018.
“Herbs and Artifacts: Trade in Traditional Chinese Medicine.” in China: Visions Through the Ages. Lisa C. Niziolek, Deborah A. Bekken, Gary M. Feinman, Editors. University of Chicago Press, 2018.
“Globalization in Southeast Asia’s Early Age of Commerce: Evidence from the 13th-Century Java Sea Shipwreck.” co-authored with Lisa C. Niziolek, in The Routledge Handbook of Archaeology and Globalization. Tamar Hodos, Editor. Routledge, 2016.
“Exchanges and Transformations in Gendered Medicine on the Maritime Silk Road: Evidence from the 13th Century Java Sea Wreck.” co-authored with Lisa C. Niziolek, in Histories of Medicine in the Indian Ocean World, Volume One. Anna Winterbottom and Facil Tesfaye, Editors. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
"Islamic Inscriptions on the Belitung Bowls: Ninth-Century Changsha Designs for an Abbasid Market." in China and the Maritime Silk Road: Shipwrecks, Ports, and Products. Stephen Murphy, editor. Asian Civilizations Museum (Forthcoming.)
“Comments on Yan Liu’s ‘Scented Protection: A History of Saffron in Medieval China’,” Fragments Journal: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Ancient and Medieval Pasts (Forthcoming.)
She has been awarded fellowships and grants from the National Science Foundation, The Institute for the Humanities and The Center for the Education of Women at The University of Michigan, the Rackham Program in Public Scholarship, and the Boone Scholars Internship in East Asian Studies at The Field Museum of Natural History, where she conducted extensive collections research on premodern shipwreck artifacts recovered from the Java Sea.