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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles


I am a final-year Ph.D. candidate at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge.

After Classical Studies in high school, I pursued a degree in Semitic Philology at the University of Catania and studied Imperial Aramaic and Classical Arabic, graduating in 2015 (110/110 cum laude). My undergraduate thesis focused on the Philistines and the early alphabets of the Mediterranean. During my M.A. in “Oriental Languages and Cultures” at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” I continued to study both Classical Arabic and Biblical Hebrew. I spent my last M.A. year in England, as an Erasmus student at SOAS, University of London. My M.A. dissertation in Islamic Studies (2017) was entitled “The Pre-Islamic Milieu of Arabia. An Inquiry into the Jāhiliya and the Rise of the Latest Abrahamic Religion” (110/110 cum laude). During my studies, I have also attended courses sponsored by the University of Oxford, Princeton University, HMML/Dumbarton Oaks and others, and joined three archaeological projects.

At the University of Cambridge I am working on the history of late antique pre-Islamic Arabia under the supervision of Professor Garth Fowden. My Ph.D. delves into the political and cultural developments of pre-Islamic late antique Arabia by probing the socio-political exploitation of cults in the shaping of Arabian identities. In the last three years at Cambridge, I taught courses at the Faculty of Divinity, presented a paper/organised thirty conferences, published several academic articles, and received twenty grants and awards.

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Department: Faculty of Divinity
Supervisor: Professor Garth Fowden
College: St Edmund’s College
Title of thesis: Societies, politics, cults and identities in pre-Islamic Arabia
AHRC subject area: Theology, Divinity and Religion
 Valentina A. Grasso

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