Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America

Kristina Richardson

John L. Nau Professor of History and Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures


Medieval Islamic History
Romani people
Global History of Printing
Race and Slavery


AB (History) Princeton University 2003

MA (Near Eastern Studies) University of Michigan 2005

PhD (Near Eastern Studies) University of Michigan 2008


In Fall 2022, Kristina Richardson joined the UVA faculty as the John L. Nau Professor of History and Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures. Her research focuses on premodern non-elite Arab history, particularly people with disabilities, users of sign language, Romani groups (ghurabā’), craftspeople, and enslaved laborers and entertainers. She is the author of two monographs: Difference and Disability in the Medieval Islamic World: Blighted Bodies (Edinburgh, 2012) and Roma in the Medieval Islamic Word: Literacy, Culture and Migration (I.B. Tauris, 2022). For this latest book she was awarded the prestigious 2022 Dan David Prize, the largest history award in the world.

In 2021 Professor Richardson and Dr. Boris Liebrenz co-published The Notebook of Kamal al-Din the Weaver, an edition and study of an early Ottoman weaver’s Arabic notebook. She is currently writing her third monograph Black Basra: Race, Labor and Piety in Early Islamic History. At its core this book will be a history of the port city of Basra from its founding in 637 until c. 1000 CE, centering the lives and experiences of free and unfree black people (al-sūdān), who were broadly defined at that time as dark-skinned inhabitants of Africa, Asia, and the southern Indian Ocean.

Professor Richardson’s work has also been supported by the National Endowment of the Humanities, the European Research Council, the Mellon Foundation, and the City University of New York. She also serves as an editor for the journal Der Islam. Prior to joining the faculty at UVA, she taught at Queens College of The City University of New York.