Honorary Research Associate, Eastern Art

Dorothy Armstrong Honorary Research Associate, Eastern Art

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Research summary

Dr Dorothy Armstrong is a historian of material culture with a special interest in the carpets of Asia and the roles they play in their places of production, consumption, and display. She uses Asian carpets to uncover hidden stories, and to bring a new perspective to more familiar histories.

As Honorary Research Associate in the Eastern Art Department, she will continue to investigate the Ashmolean’s carpets and carpet-related archives in support of her ongoing work to uncover the participation of Asian carpets in global history. 

Her current project is a book entitled Threads of Empire: A History of the World in Twelve Carpets, which will be published in early 2025 by Weidenfeld and Nicholson in the UK and Macmillan in the US.


She was May Beattie Visiting Fellow in Carpet Studies at the Ashmolean 2021-2022, and is currently on a five-year Honorary Research Associateship in the Ashmolean's Eastern Art Department.

She previously taught the History of Design MA at the Royal College of Art/V&A, and the Master of Fine Art at Edinburgh University’s College of Art. She received the V&A’s Clive Wainwright Prize, and the British Institute of Middle Eastern Studies/Abdullah al-Mubarak al-Sabah Scholarship. 

She was educated at the University of Cambridge, London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Royal College of Art/V&A. 

Featured publications

  • ‘Inventing the Ardabil Carpet: The Appropriation of an Iranian Artifact’, Iran: The Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, 2019
  • ‘Wandering Designs: The Repossession of the “Oriental” Carpet and its Imaginary in 19th Century North India', Rhapsodic Objects: Art, Agency and Materiality (de Gruyter, 2022)
  • ‘Persophilia and Technocracy: Carpets in the World of Islam Festival, 1976', Journal of Art Historiography, 2023. This most recent article was based on research undertaken at the Ashmolean in  May Beattie’s Archive, and assesses the contribution of Beattie’s groundbreaking exhibition, Carpets of Central Persia, held in 1976.