Friday, 27 November 2009

Our Winter Conference

Date for your diaries: Please keep Friday 19th February 2010 free for our SAALG winter conference, to be hosted by the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5AZ. The conference will include a tour of the Freemasons' Hall, a talk on Freemasonry in India by Archivist and Record Manager, Susan Snell, and an opportunity to view and discuss artefacts, photographs, and correspondence in their permanent collection with their museum curator and librarian.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Forthcoming publication

Martin Moir, former Head of the India Office Records, has written a novel entitled Not Exactly Shangri-la, which is due to be published by Rupa & Co. (New Delhi) in December.

Timothy, a diffident young British academic, and Huma, a feisty young woman from India, are two ‘foreign experts’ invited to Kalapur, a remote and apparently peaceful Himalayan country, to advise on the preservation and editing of an important monastic chronicle. But far from being a harmless academic project, they soon discover that the publication of the chronicle is being used by the authoritarian regime in Kalapur to suppress knowledge of a past that threatens its own legitimacy. Moreover, far from being peaceful, Kalapur turns out to be riven by a secret resistance movement led by guerrilla fighters known as the migos, named after the yetis or wildmen still believed to survive in the remoter parts of the country. Encouraged in their historical quest by a sympathetic but enigmatic local abbot, Huma and Timothy face some terrifying experiences before finally discovering what really happened in the recent past, and in the process deepening their own relationship.
At once adventure story, orientalist romance, psychological study and serious enquiry into different views of the past, Not exactly Shangri-la explores a fictional world that is deeply strange but strangely familiar, sinister yet funny.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

NACIRA conference

"Expect the unexpected : hidden resources [on Asia] in the UK" - NACIRA's 2009 conference will take place at the Royal Asiatic Society on Tuesday 8th December 2009, with an excellent panel of speakers from the National Maritime Musuem, Victoria & Albert Museum, National Archives, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Hidden histories of exploration

A major new exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) which offers a new perspective on the Society's Collections, highlighting the role of local inhabitants and intermediaries in the history of exploration.

Exhibition Open: 10:00 - 17:00
Monday - Friday
15 October - 10 December 2009

Free Admission

Location: Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Exhibition Road, London

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Happy 1st Birthday Wellcome Library Blog

Congratulations to the Wellcome Library Blog on receiving 20,000 visits in its first year from people in 139 countries.

Written by Wellcome Library staff, this is an entertaining and informative blog for those interested in the Wellcome's amazing collection of medical history items. If you haven't had a chance to visit, why not do so on its first birthday?

(Photo credit:

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Royal Asiatic Society Lectures

These forthcoming lectures at the RAS are of South Asian interest:

Tradition, change and evolution: art and architecture in Sri Lanka (500 BC-1815 AD)
Dr. SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda.
5 Nov 2009, 6.00pm.

The Bibliotheca Malabarica: an eighteenth century Tamil library.
Dr. Will Sweetman.
10 Dec 2009, 6.00pm.

Lectures are held at the RAS, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD.
Admission free, no need to book, all are welcome.

Monday, 12 October 2009


Maharaja: the Splendour of India's royal courts opened at the Victoria & Albert Museum on 10th October. The exhibition spans the period from the beginning of the 18th century to the mid-20th century, bringing together over 250 magnificent objects, many being lent from India’s royal collections for the first time.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Widow Colony

Harpreet Kaur's film The Widow Colony, about the Sikh killings which occurred after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, is being shown in UK cinemas.
Click on the image above for screenings.

Monday, 3 August 2009

SAALG 81st conference, July 2009

SAALG had a successful and enjoyable summer conference at the Ancient India & Iran Trust in Cambridge (you can tell by our smiling faces...!)

Friday, 31 July 2009

Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail (ASHT) events, September

This September (3rd - 26th), join in, discover and enjoy the splendour and substance that underpins the heritage connecting the Sikhs and the British.
The Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail has since 2004 presented an annual series of unique events which highlight both the historical, and present connection between the Sikhs and Britain.

In this sixth year they will be presenting a whole month of unique lectures, workshops and exhibitions serving to inspire, inform and entertain.

This years events include an exclusive performance by Tigerstyle at the Tower of London, a gallery talk with internationally acclaimed artisits 'The Singh Twins', storytelling at the V & A and a unique series of lectures.

Monday, 27 July 2009

NACIRA seminar

The National Committee for Information Resources on Asia (NACIRA) - formerly NCOLR - will be holding a seminar on internet resources for Oriental studies on 16th and 17th September at Cambridge University Library.

Applications to:
John Moffett
Needham Research Institute
8 Sylvester Road

Email: or call: 01223311545

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

At the 81st SAALG conference Sam van Schaik introduced us to his excellent blog. Sam has used the blog to disseminate his research notes whilst working on the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library.

Friday, 26 June 2009


Don't forget - the 81st SAALG conference is at the Ancient India & Iran Trust, Cambridge, on Friday 3rd July (see previous blog post for details and map), and it's only £10 for the day with a lovely lunch at the HQ of the AIIT (pictured).

You've still got time to let me know if you're attending, just email me at

Thursday, 21 May 2009

81st SAALG Conference

This will be held on Friday 3rd July 2009 at the Ancient India and Iran Trust at 23 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge, CB2 2BG (see map above - click on it for larger image).

As usual we have an interesting and varied programme. Registration and coffee is at 10.30, then:

Bill Noblett (Cambridge University Library): "Material for the study of Indian history in the Official Publications Collection".

Chris Gill (Strathclyde University): "Civil veterinary material in the National Library of Scotland India Papers Collection – a previously neglected resource for research into environmental history and the social history of medicine in a colonial context".

Lunch (in the garden, weather permitting)

Sam van Schaik (British Library): "The International Dunhuang Project:
Tibetan manuscript research and the cataloguing of manuscripts using Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines".

Keren Mills (Open University): "Digilab – the latest tools and technologies for teaching and learning and their application in libraries and archives".

Jan Usher (NLS): Practical session on how to contribute to SAALG’s blog.

A charge of £10 per person will be made for attendance. Please send all notes of interest in attending to: by 25th June, please.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

New wiki guide to libraries and archives in South Asia

The Libraries & Archives in South Asia (LASA) wiki is a collaborative effort to compile a guide to South Asian libraries and archives for academics and researchers in the humanities and social sciences. The LASA wiki contains detailed information about libraries and archives in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It aims to become a full-fledged portal to research in South Asia, for the scholarly community and by the scholarly community.

Every entry in the wiki can be improved upon with new or updated information. A typical entry contains location, contact information, basic access and collection information and a link to the institution's website when it is available. More detailed information, including maps, photographs, links to online catalogs, etc. are provided when available.

URL Click here to enter wiki.

LASAwiki is a project of the Digital South Asia Library (DSAL) developed by the University of Chicago Library with support from the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. The LASA wiki was created by Samip Mallick, Assistant Bibliographer for Southern Asia, University of Chicago Library.

Friday, 24 April 2009

SAALG Summer Conference

Date for your diary: Our summer conference will be held in Cambridge, at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, on Friday 3rd July 2009. New members are welcome to attend. More details will be posted on this blog in June.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail

The ASHT website has details of places around the UK with Sikh connections and collections, including the BL and the NLS. You can sign up to their newsletter on the site so you don't miss out on their tours, events and volunteering opportunities.

Monday, 23 March 2009

SAALG members' photos

As you may have noticed, we now have a Flickr Badge (on the left hand side of the blog page, after the Subscribe information). If you click on it, you'll get a selection of photos from the National Library of Scotland's Tea & Tigers 2007 exhibition launch party, and some from our visit to the Kolkata Book Fair.

If any SAALG members want me to load up relevant photos, please email them to me.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Temporary post at British Museum

Tabor Foundation Research Assistant, Asia
£21,807 per annum
Fixed-term for 23 months

As Tabor Foundation Research Assistant you will use your academic expertise to provide information on items in the collection. This role would be suitable for anyone looking to begin a career in the Museum sector. You will also be responsible for creating new data and images of parts of the South and Southeast Asia collections, and uploading these records onto the Museum’s online database, Merlin. Initially, this post will involve a one year extensive training period with the first Tabor Foundation Research Assistant, whereby they will demonstrate and share the skills and techniques necessary for the post.

Additionally, you will have responsibility for some original research on collection objects. You will work on other projects concerned with South and Southeast Asian culture, such as exhibitions, when required. This role involves dealing with a very large and diverse collection that requires the ability and research skills to accurately generate cataloguing information.

Educated to degree level (or equivalent) in a subject relevant to South Asia (archaeology, art history etc.), you will also have the ability to write well. Familiarity with data entry (both written and images) is essential. You will work well as part of a team, but also work alone once your initial training has been completed.

For further information or a full application pack, please visit or email quoting reference 76032.

Closing date: 1 April 2009.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Wellcome to the Library

At the SAALG 80th conference on Friday 20th February delegates were very privileged to see some fine examples of South Asian manuscripts from the Wellcome Library's collections. Presented by Dr. Nikolai Serikoff, the Asian Collection Librarian, these items demonstrate what a remarkable library the Wellcome is.
It's easy and free to join. Go to the E-registration page to kickstart your membership. You can reserve books from the comfort of your PC before making a visit in person. I have used the Library a few times and the staff are very helpful and friendly. I highly recommend it; the Wellcome Library blog offers a taste of the rich and varied nature of its holdings.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Royal Asiatic Society

Forthcoming lectures relating to South Asia:

Odissi Indian Classical Dance (student series)
Dance and talk by Scheherazaad Cooper
March 18th 2009, 6.30 pm
Scheherazaad Cooper is an Odissi Indian classical dance practioner who has performed in Canada, the USA, India and the UK.

C. H. Philips and the East India Company (main series)
by Prof. Huw Bowen, Swansea University
April 16th 2009, 6.00pm

Tracing tea: Darjeeling to London in Pursuit of the Perfect Cuppa (student series)
by Max Lovell-Hoare
April 22nd 2009, 6.30pm
Max Lovell-Hoare's 10,000 mile journey used two modified Indian auto rickshaws and aimed to achieve two world records: the longest journey in a tuk tuk and the world's highest tea party on Pakistan's Khunjerap Pass.

All events are at the RAS, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD. For further details see

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Kolkata Book Fair

Kevin Halliwell and I are visiting the Kolkata Book Fair (where Scotland has the honour to be the theme country - Scotland pavilion pictured), and rather than duplicate posts, you can read all about it in this blog; the posts also refer to 2 other very good blogs from the British Council and the Sunday Herald. Happy reading!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

BASAS Conference

The British Association for South Asian Studies Conference 2009 will be held at the University of Edinburgh, March 30th - April 1st.

For further information please contact Dr Crispin Bates at

Thursday, 15 January 2009

India, Raj & Empire

Adam Matthew Digital have a new portal, "India, Raj & Empire", which features just a few of the manuscript collections relating to South Asia in the National Library off Scotland. This is planned to be a 10 year project, adding more material from other collections in the UK. You can get a free 4-week trial as a taster.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Wellcome Images

I'm really looking forward to visiting the Wellcome Collection again for the SAALG conference. The Collection contains some amazing images and many are now available free to view online here. As part of the Medical History of British India Project I have discovered some fascinating pioneers of early medical science and due to this resource have been able to see their faces.
This photograph (credit: Wellcome Images) shows S.R. Christophers, lifelong malaria scientist, on board the ship Elphinstone surrounded by his equipment, including an insect-catching net hung on the door. Christophers lived to be 104 years old and "had the qualities of scientific honesty and integrity."
Russian W.M. Haffkine, who did much vital work in India on cholera and plague, is pictured in Calcutta, 1894, giving anti-cholera inoculations. There is also a super portrait of the Indian Medical Service cholera and snake venom researcher D.D. Cunningham, who I have long admired because he wasn’t afraid to express his opinions.
It’s easy to search, so have fun and you never know who you might meet!

WWI Indian Army medals

On the National Archives website you can now search and download the medal index cards of more than 20,000 soldiers who served in the Indian Army during World War One. The cards record the soldiers who were entitled to, or made a claim for, campaign medals - in particular the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

SAALG conference, February 2009.

Our 80th CONFERENCE will be on Friday 20th February 2009 at the
Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, in Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE

Francine Millard (National Library of Scotland)
"Rum barrels and rabid badgers - discover the medical history of British India."

Henry Noltie (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh)
“Robert Wight and the botanical drawings of Rungiah & Govindoo”.

Eleanor Lanyon (Outreach Officer) and Dr Nikolai Serikoff (Asian Collection Librarian, Wellcome Collection)
Tour and exhibition of the Wellcome’s South Asian collections.

Nicholas Martland (Faculty Librarian Arts & Humanities/South and Southeast Asia and Pacific, SOAS)
"Sago, nutmeg and camphor: growing plants from the Malay Archipelago in the Calcutta Botanic Garden".

Attendance at the conference costs £10, payable on the day.
If you will attend the 80th conference, please contact:

Rachel M. Rowe
Email: Phone: 01223 338094
Jan Usher 0131 623 3802

by 4th February.