John Latham-Sprinkle is a BOF Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Ghent.
He works on the political history of the medieval North Caucasus. This fascinating region is a quintessential example of a pre-modern borderland, with control of its strategic routes, resources and manpower contested by the Sassanian, Byzantine, Abbasid, Khazar, Mongol and Russian Empires. His work examines how the indigenous peoples of the Central and Western North Caucasus organised themselves politically to resist and exploit this situation.
John is currently working on a book manuscript on the functioning of the Kingdom of Alania. This was the most powerful political entity in the medieval North Caucasus; however, its actual functioning is unclear, given that it possessed few of the 'conventional' trappings of the state, such as coinage, a written administration, or written history. John's work locates this kingdom in the context of wider transregional connections, the control of which allowed its rulers to rise to a level of power unprecedented in North Caucasian history to that point. His next project will examine how changes in the North Caucasian slave trade affected these power structures in the 14th and 15th centuries.
John studied history at King's College London (2005-8), the University of Leeds (2011-12), and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London (2013-14). He gained his PhD, 'Political Authority in North Caucasian Alania, 800-1300', from the School of Oriental and African Studies (2019). He previously taught at Saint Xavier University and Wilbur Wright College in Chicago, USA. Along with James Baillie (University of Vienna), he is the co-ordinator of the Medieval Caucasus Network: an online network bringing together specialists in the medieval Caucasian region.