Photo of Dr Robin Whelan

Dr Robin Whelan BA, MSt, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Mediterranean History History



My first book, Being Christian in Vandal Africa: the Politics of Orthodoxy in the Post-Imperial West (University of California Press, 2018) analyses conflicts over orthodoxy in the Vandal kingdom, the successor to Roman rule in North Africa (c. 439-533 CE). It argues that disputes between Nicene (‘Catholic’) and Homoian (‘Arian’) Christians in Vandal Africa retained the sophistication and socio-political consequences evident from the notoriously passionate (and often violent) ecclesiastical conflicts of the later Roman Empire. I have also published articles and book chapters on North African church conflict; ‘Arianism’ as a heresy; debate and dialogue in late antiquity; ethnicity and Christianity; the ‘secular’ in the post-Roman West; and Vandal royal women.

My AHRC-funded project, ‘The Christian State in Late Antiquity’ considers how Christian ideology transformed the representation and practice of governance across the Mediterranean world in late antiquity. This is far from an understudied topic (!), but my project is novel in shifting attention from emperors and bishops to the ‘secular’ administrators who served late Roman, post-Roman and Byzantine regimes. I am currently writing a book, provisionally entitled Official Religion: Serving the Christian State in Late Antiquity, which traces how conceptions of divine providence, ascetic practices, and interactions with ecclesiastical institutions created new—and often rather ambivalent—expectations of these men and their political agency. Alongside this book project, I have recently co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Late Antiquity on ‘Shaping Christian Politics in Late Antiquity’ with Richard Flower and Meaghan McEvoy; we also plan to co-edit a volume on Christian Political Cultures in Late Antiquity.

As a result of my research on various sorts of marginalized people in late antiquity, I am also interested in how modern theoretical and experiential work on diversity and inequality might help us to understand life in pre-modern societies. I have co-organized workshops on ‘Medieval Intersectionality’ and ‘Teaching Medieval Diversity’.

Research Grants

The Christian State in Late Antiquity: Officials, Identities, and Religious Change, c. 400-600CE


September 2020 - August 2023