Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Dr Julia Shaw

Academic position: Associate Professor in South Asian Archaeology 

Department: Institute of Archaeology

Email: julia.shaw@ucl.ac.uk

Website: Julia Shaw


Julia is an Associate Professor in South Asian Archaeology. She researches and teaches on interfaces between archaeology, ecological public health, and global climate-change activism, and is currently writing a book on the deep history of nature, religion and society in South Asia including upland/lowland landscape interactions, diachronic attitudes towards weeds, pests and pest-control, and their impact on long term environmental and human health outcomes.  She is also writing a book on the archaeology of Buddhism.  Other research  interests include archaeology, environmental activism, and the medico-environmental humanities, and the relevance of ecological public health, epigenetics and exposome theory for the archaeology of human:environment engagements. Julia also co-runs a campaigning group that works with the local council, and other stakeholders to explore alternatives to synthetic pesticide use in public and private urban spaces in Cambridge. The results of this work intersect with her research on intellectual constructions of, and behavioural responses to 'nature', including attitudes towards pests and pest control.  

Research Projects:

In 2020, Beverley Butler and Julia set up the Heritage and Archaeology of Health and Medicine (HAHM) initiative at the Institute of Archaeology (IoA) that highlights the need for closer engagement across the IoA’s teaching and research agenda with key developments in the Environmental and Medical Humanities and with the social and cultural contribution of health and wellbeing in the long term while also profiling the many other unique contributions and perspectives offered by heritage and archaeology.  It also seeks to provide a platform for bridging academic and activist spheres of medico-environmental discourse as a means of fostering new forms of collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and networking between what are often separate arenas of activity. This might mean for example focusing on how our research interests in themes such as disability inclusivity and accessibility, or health, air pollution and the built environment, might be better showcased, implemented, or advocated for within our immediate working cultures and environments. This is currently being developed into a formal IoA Research Network. 



Julia's current teaching includes sessions on climate / Anthropocene narratives and medico-environmental worldviews and outcomes within her UG modules (Archaeology of Early South Asia, Archaeology of early-historic South Asia), as well as her MA teaching (Archaeology of Asia; Archaeology of Buddhism, and Archaeology of the Silk Roads).

Beverley Butler and Julia are in discussion as to how to better embed the aims of their Heritage and Archaeology of Health and Medicine initiative (HAHM) into teaching at a departmental level and how to consolidate, integrate and strengthen existing work in this area through the establishment of a HAHM research strand that operates across the IoA ‘Sections’ and to create new initiatives in terms of teaching, seminars, workshops and public engagement.