Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Islam, Trade and Politics across the Indian Ocean

On Friday 6 July the Ancient India and Iran Trust (AIIT) in Cambridge was a most convivial venue for the joint annual meeting of SAALG and SEALG (Southeast Asia Library Group), where I spoke on the British Academy-funded research project 'Islam, Trade and Politics across the Indian Ocean', investigating Ottoman links with Southeast Asia:   These links date back to the sixteenth century, when the sultanate of Aceh in north Sumatra contacted the Ottoman emperor to ask for help against the Portuguese who were disrupting the Indian Ocean pepper trade.

The project set out to study all forms of interaction between these two regions, from political, religious, literary and commercial exchanges to mutual influence in material culture.  A nice example of these interactions was evident among the exhibits that the AIIT's Honorary Librarian, Ursula Sims-Williams, had put out on display for the meeting: some rare 19th-century Malay lithographed poems from Singapore, which bore on the back cover the name of the publisher, Haji Muhammad Amin, modelled on the Ottoman tughra or calligraphic royal emblem.

Syair Sinar Alam, Singapore, 1914
AIIT A14E40(1)

Dr Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator for Southeast Asian Studies, and curator of Indonesian and Malay collections, the British Library.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Dalai Lama visit to National Library of Scotland

On Friday 22nd June, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet visited the National Library of Scotland here in Edinburgh.
He had requested a private viewing of some of our collections, including archives of Isabella Bird Bishop and also some Medical History of British India items.
On this page from His Holiness’s website Jan Usher, Head of Official Publications and one of the founders of the project, shows His Holiness a photograph from 1894 of Indian mendicants in the Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient

We were delighted to welcome Maïté Hurel, Librarian for South Asia, École Française d'Extrême-Orient in Paris, to our recent SAALG conference in Cambridge.

Readers unfamiliar with the work and resources of l'École Française d'Extrême-Orient, are recommended to visit their website at:
Managed as a blog, the website has an English-language version, for those of us more linguistically challenged than Maïté!  It is superbly organised and contains links to their centres across south and south-east Asia, links to library catalogues under Documentary resources, contact details for academic staff under Research/Geographical areas and details of new publications.

Monday, 9 July 2012

New open access journal and blog

Journal Homepage ImageThe University of Edinburgh is about to release a new online open-access publication called 'The South Asianist' - see:

An interdisciplinary academic journal, it aims to encourage critical debate on social, environmental, cultural, linguistic, religious, political and economic aspects of South Asia, with provocative, peer-reviewed essays and reviews, complimented by video vignettes, including interviews and mini-documentaries.

It is also publishing a new blog, edited by Kristin Bouldin, to 'encourage people to openly express their impressions, discoveries, and thoughts in relation to research in South Asia'.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

MATERIAL LIFE IN SOUTH ASIA, 1500-1900 - call for papers

A one-day New Researchers' Workshop is to be held at the University of
Cambridge on Thursday 27th September 2012.  The Workshop is for current
graduate students, post-doctoral and early career researchers whose work
examines aspects of material life.  This could concern issues ranging from
production, consumption, trade and living standards, to taste, food and
drink, work, everyday life and ritual.  Scholars whose work examines
regions at the 'fringes' of the colonial heartlands (e.g. Burma, Kashmir,
Tibet, Punjab, Sri Lanka, Assam, Bhutan, Nepal, Rajasthan), and which uses
non-textual/artefactual as well as textual sources, would be extremely

Proposals of 500 words and a brief CV should be emailed to
Jagjeet Lally ( by 31st August 2012.

The Workshop will be followed by a one-day conference in April 2013.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Amateur Cinema Studies Network launched

The University of Cambridge Press Office has recently published a press release about the Amateur Cinema Studies Network, a project launched in May this year.  The announcement also includes a reference to one of the newly digitised film collections by the Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge.
Dr Annamaria Motrescu, Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer, Centre of South Asian Studies