Glaire Anderson


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Areas of Interest:
Medieval Islamic visual culture (architecture, objects, material culture);
Digital technologies for immersive experiences of history and art;
History and games/gaming;
Museums/Cultural Heritage;
Global encounters/exchange;
Islamic visual culture, Philippines and Southeast Asia

Personal profile


I'm an award-winning author and expert in Islamic art and history during the caliphal period (c.650-1250). I'm an advocate for the power of Islamic visual culture to reveal a more diverse and interconnected global history. My aim is to make Islamic art and history accessible to all through the Higher Ed, Games, and GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) sectors.  

My current research focuses on video games/XR+ to make Islamic art/architecture, cultural heritage and history widely accessible beyond the academy.  I have a longstanding interest in digital art history, and founded and lead the Digital Lab for Islamic Visual Culture & Collections. 

My work as a historian has focused on Cordoba, the capital of early Islamic Iberia, in the caliphal period. My second monograph A Bridge to the Sky (Oxford University Press, in production) explores early Islamic science and visual culture through the career of a 9th c. Cordoban intellectual, 'Abbas Ibn Firnas, remembered today for an experiment in early human flight. My first book analysed the elite villas and court culture of Cordoba and early Islamic Spain.

I also work on global connections between medieval Islamic and non-Islamic polities, including Viking Age societies, and have written about women and eunuchs as 'makers' of medieval Islamic art.

Before arriving in Edinburgh in 2018 I was Associate Professor of Art History with tenure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I taught Islamic art history since 2006. Before that I held visiting lectureships at Boston Architectural College, Dartmouth College, and Brandeis University.

I earned a MArch His. in Architectural History and Historic Preservation at the University of Virginia in 1998. A highlight of my time at Virginia was a summer internship  at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, working with the Director of Restoration to do hands-on architectural conservation and restoration.   

I earned my PhD at MIT in 2005 in the History, Theory & Criticism of Architecture and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture. 

Collaborative Activity

What do I do? 

I help developers create inclusive, diverse games and XR+ inspired by architecture, art, and histories of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

I work with GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) professionals to make their Islamic collections widely accessible.

How I help:

  • Targeted intros to architecture, art, archaeology, material culture, and history
  • Custom presentations to support your creative team(s)
  • Guidance on specialist museum collections, including images for commercial use, and risk assessment
  • ‘Critical Friend’ insights, feedback, and recommendations on visuals, content and messaging for projects at any stage
  • Custom art/architecture/archaeology tours
  • Advice on other experts to support projects


  • Demonstrated experience working with leading partners in games and GLAM (Galleries, Archives, Libraries, Museums)
  • For longer-term projects (3+ months), partnership with Edinburgh Innovations providing support, access to funding, studentships, and connections to Scottish industry and networks

What is the real world applicability of my research?

  • Assassin's Creed Mirage, History of Baghdad educational feature. 
  • I work in partnership with Edinburgh Innovations (the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service), providing support, funding, studentships, and connections to Scottish industry and networks.
  • I translate historical research for broad audiences. I have 20 years international experience in higher ed and GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museum) sectors, and demonstrated experience working collaboratively on games and immersive experiences
  • I bring background and experiences supporting depth in content and representation, and diversity and inclusion

Contact me:



  • The Arts in the Age of the Great Caliphs
  • Stars, Robots, and Talismans: Science, Magic, and Medieval Islamic Visual Culture


  • Digital Islamic Art History
  • Around 900: The Early Islamic West in a Global Context 

As well as teaching on programmes at Edinburgh College of Art, I teach on the MSc in Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

Education/Academic qualification

History, Theory & Criticism of Architecture/ Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Doctor in Philosophy, MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

External positions

Editorial Board, Amsterdam University Press (Late Antique and Early Medieval Iberia Series)

2016 → …

Associate, International Center for Medieval Art

… → 2023


  • DP Spain
  • al-Andalus
  • NA Architecture
  • Islamic Architecture
  • DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
  • Islamic Mediterranean
  • DS Asia
  • Islamic History
  • CB History of civilization
  • Islamic Civilization
  • NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
  • Islamic Art
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Museums
  • Games

College Research Themes

  • Cultural Heritage
  • Data & Digital


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