I am currently Lecturer in Mediterranean History at the University of Liverpool. I am a cultural historian of late antiquity and the early middle ages. My research and teaching focus on the later Roman Empire and its early medieval successors, with a particular interest in issues of religious diversity, social identity, ethnic communities, and political culture. My first book, Being Christian in Vandal Africa (University of California Press, 2018) is about the consequences of church conflict in post-Roman Africa (modern-day Tunisia and Algeria). My current project considers how Christian ideology reshaped the representation and practice of governance in late antiquity.

Before coming to Liverpool in January 2018, I was Hulme Humanities Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (2014-2018), and a temporary Lecturer in Early Medieval History attached to various Oxford colleges (2016/17).


Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (PhD in Classics, 2014)

University College, Oxford (MSt in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, 2010)

Merton College, Oxford (BA in History, 2009)

Other Publications

Being Christian in Vandal Africa: the politics of orthodoxy in the post-imperial West, The transformation of the classical heritage 59 (Oakland, CA, 2018). https://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520295957

‘Mirrors for bureaucrats: expectations of Christian officials in the Theodosian Empire’, Journal of Roman Studies 108 (2018). Available via FirstView at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0075435818000254

‘Arianism in Africa’, in G. M. Berndt and R. Steinacher (eds) Arianism: Roman heresy and barbarian creed (Aldershot, 2014), pp. 239-55.

Other Book Reviews

2016: M. Meier and S. Patzold (edd.) Chlodwigs Welt: Organisation von Herrschaft um 500, Roma Aeterna 3 (Stuttgart, 2014), in Tyche: Beiträge zur Alten Geschichte, Papyrologie und Epigraphik 31: 304-307. (https://tyche-journal.at/tyche/index.php/tyche/article/view/691)

2016: P. R. L. Brown, Treasure in heaven: the holy poor in early Christianity (Charlottesville, VA, 2016), in Catholic Historical Review 102.4: 826-27.

2016: L. K. Bailey, The religious worlds of the laity in late antique Gaul (London, 2016), in Bryn Mawr Classical Review. http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2016/2016-08-28.html.

2015: W. Pohl and G. Heydemann, Post-Roman transitions: barbarian and Christian identities in the early medieval West, Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages 14 (Turnhout, 2013), in Sehepunkte: Rezensionsjournal für die Geschichtswissenschaften 15.11. http://www.sehepunkte.de/2015/11/24591.html

2015: Y. Modéran, Les Vandales et l’Empire romain, (ed.) M.-Y. Perrin (Arles, 2014), in Journal of Roman Studies 105: 471-72. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0075435815000878

2014: J. Conant, Staying Roman: conquest and identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439-700, Cambridge studies in medieval life and thought: fourth series, 82 (Cambridge, 2012), in Journal of Roman Archaeology 27: 939-43. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1047759414002256

2014: P. Eich and E. Faber (edd.) Religiöser Alltag in der Spätantike, Potsdamer Altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge 44 (Stuttgart, 2013) in Bryn Mawr Classical Review. http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2014/2014-06-51.html

2013: R. Bockmann, Capital continuous: A study of governance and society in Vandal Carthage and central North Africa from an archaeological perspective, Spätantike – Frühes Christentum – Byzanz 37 (Wiesbaden, 2013), in Göttinger Forum für Altertumswissenschaft 16. http://gfa.gbv.de/z/2013

2012: J. Ulrich, A.-C. Jacobsen and D. Brakke (edd.) Invention, rewriting, usurpation: discursive fights over religious traditions in antiquity, Early Christianity in the context of antiquity, 11 (Frankfurt am Main, 2011) in Bryn Mawr Classical Review. http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2012/2012-05-19.html


In my current post-doctoral project, ‘Forming a Christian state in the late-antique Mediterranean, c. 400-600’, I consider the transformation of ancient political culture in the wake of the conversion of the late Roman aristocracy. This project examines the long-term consequences of the Christianization of the Roman world in a comparative perspective: not only in the Eastern Empire and the fragmenting territories of its Western counterpart, but also in the new successor kingdoms of the post-imperial West. It investigates how Christian ideology reshaped contemporary expectations of the courtiers, bureaucrats and generals who served regimes across the fifth- and sixth-century Mediterranean. The ultimate outcome of the project will be a monograph providing a new account of late-antique Christian political thought and its recasting of the state in a critical period of transition.

I am also currently working on papers on gender, ethnicity, and power in Vandal Africa, and on Christian ideas of the “secular” in the sixth-century West.

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

28 June 2018: ‘After Augustine, after Markus: the “secular” in sixth-century Latin Christian political thought’, The Sacral and the Secular: Early Medieval Political Theology, conference at Churchill College, Cambridge.

2 July 2018: ‘Pastor of muppets: admonishing “sons of the church” in the post-imperial West’, Remembering Admonitio: Episcopal Criticism of Rulers in the Middle Ages, I, Leeds International Medieval Congress.

9 November 2018: ‘Reinventing Arianism in the post-imperial West’, Genèse, transmission et transformation du savoir sur l’hérésie (Antiquité tardive et haut Moyen Âge), Journée d’études du GIS Hérésies, Pouvoirs, et Sociétés, Créteil.

14/15 November 2018: ‘Why aren’t there Vandal women? Gendering the Hasding court’, Africa 500-1000, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.

Robin Whelan

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