Thomas is a historian of transnational exchange within Asia and between Asia and other parts of the world. He is interested in bringing to light (and life) under-appreciated characters and cross-cultural connections that have made our modern world.

His research is based on his linguistic training in multiple languages (Persian, Chinese, Arabic, Pashto, Urdu, Bengali, and Ottoman Turkish) and his time spent living and working in various parts of Asia.

Thomas’s early academic focus was 19th and 20th century Afghanistan and its intellectual, artistic, and economic connections to other parts of Asia. Over the last couple of years he has become increasingly interested in cultural and economic exchange stemming from the western counterculture’s fascination with Asia in the 1960s and beyond. Alongside cultural and economic history, he also maintains secondary interests in Museum Studies and Cultural Heritage Studies. In 2018 he was a guest lecturer at Yale University where he co-taught a course on “Asian Objects and the Museum” with Professor Anne Underhill.

All his academic articles can be found on his page here and a selection are linked below.

Spiritual Genealogies of Gansu: Chains of transmission in the Jahriyya and Khafiyya turuq (written with Professor Jonathan Lipman)
Islamic Authority and the State: Genealogies, Rituals and Networks in Reconstruction of the Hui Communities in China (Abingdon: Routledge, 2020)

From Patriot to Port-City Poet: Mahmud Tarzi in Istanbul
Afghan History Through Afghan Eyes (London: C. Hurst & Co, 2015)

Astrakhan, Borqa’, Chadari, Dreshi: The Economy of Dress in early 20th Century Afghanistan 
Anti-Veiling Campaigns in the Muslim World: Gender, Modernism and the Politics of Dress (London: Routledge, 2014)

Around the World in Twenty-Nine Days: The Travels, Translations, and Temptations of an Afghan Dragoman
On the Wonders of Land and Sea: Persianate Travel Writing (Boston: Ilex Foundation, distributed by Harvard University Press, 2013)

The Cinema in Afghanistan / Afghanistan in the Cinema: A Review Article (written with Professor Zuzanna Olszewska)
New Cinemas, 2013