Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Future of South Asian Collections: UK and South Asia Perspectives, 30th April - 2 May 2014

A date for your diaries, and a call for papers...

The Sainsbury Institute for Art is organising a conference to be held at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, 30th April - 2 May 2014, entitled:

'The Future of South Asian Collections: UK and South Asia Perspectives'

Conference organisers, Emily Crane (UEA) & Diana Grattan (SADACC), write:

There are numerous and varied South Asian collections held both in the UK and in South Asia.  They range from public or government institutions to privately held collections; some are world renown and firmly established, whilst some are newly formed or a small part of bigger institutions.  Moreover, there are some collections that are well-funded but, certainly within the UK, ever-increasing financial restraints have become a major issue.

Over the last decade there have been shifts in museum practices and thinking about these particular types of collections.  Issues of conservation, documentation, storage and research remain pragmatic concerns for many. Recent collecting practices have tended to be either non-existent, predicated on existing material, in response to particular audiences or linked to specific exhibitions.  Museums have attempted to deliver programs in response to different audiences, with changing expectations and levels of participation.  Does the breadth and complexity of these issues perhaps require the need for an increasingly collective and comprehensive approach?

The conference celebrates the affiliation of the South Asian DecorativeArts and Crafts Collection (SADACC) with the Sainsbury Institute for Art (SIfA) at the University of East Anglia. The notions of 'craft' and 'world art' are explored across the SIFA institutions.  Craft has been considered as the interrelation of form, function, material, process and meaning, mediated through social, economic and cultural influences. Craft is also inextricably linked to concepts of skill and craftsmanship. This understanding of ‘craft' has certainly informed the selection and collection of objects that now form the South Asian Decorative Arts and Craft Collection.  Is it, therefore, a useful device to interpret and consider objects found in South Asia Collections? Furthermore, how do notions of 'craft' relate to debates surrounding 'world art'?

This conference aims to promote collaboration and exchanges between professionals working with collections of South Asian arts and crafts, nationally and internationally.  By sharing knowledge and experiences, it is envisaged that the conference will build and strengthen networks, and foster new partnerships.

Call for papers

Emily and Diana welcome proposals for a range of possible contributions. These may be 30 minute plenary papers or an idea for running a 50 minute discussion group. These discussion groups may be organised around a particular theme, include shorter presentations by organisers, or address a particular issue or question that fits with the theme of the conference. Furthermore, if you have ideas for shorter contributions but do not wish to run a discussion session, we will try to fit these into groups based loosely around the questions outlined on the website, led by members of the host institutions.

Please send any proposals or queries to by 28 February 2014.

Please see the conference webpage for further information.

Friday, 20 December 2013

John Rylands Research Institute – Leverhulme Fellowships

I have been asked by Elizabeth Gow, Manuscript Curator and Archivist, at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, to disseminate information about  Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships being offered at the John Rylands Library.  These are open to applicants wishing to work on any of the Library's special collections, including their South and Southeast Asian material. 

Overviews of Southeast Asian manuscript collections at the John Rylands Library may be found at: 

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships
John Rylands Research Institute and The School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, The University of Manchester

The John Rylands Research Institute is pleased to announce that it intends to sponsor two Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships beginning in 2014. Potential applicants are invited to submit preliminary applications by Monday 13 January 2014. Projects must demonstrate a strong connection to the University of Manchester Library’s Special Collections (see below). Interested candidates should contact the John Rylands Research Institute administrator, Silke Schaeper ( as soon as possible. The Institute’s Director, Professor Peter E. Pormann, and grant writer, Dr Stevie Spiegl, as well as the curatorial staff of the Library can assist the candidate in formulating a viable research proposal that is based on a detailed study of material in the Special Collections.

Preliminary applications must be submitted to the SALC Research Support Manager via email ( as a single PDF file.
We require (i) a one-page CV, and (ii) details of the proposal, including:
• Project title
• 100-word abstract.
• Brief statement explaining how the project links to the Library’s Special Collections.
• Project description (max. 2 sides of A4).

To quote the Leverhulme guidelines about the project description:
“This should include aims, objectives, methodology and outcome (e.g. publication plans). It should enable the Committee and your referees to form an estimate of the scope and importance of your proposal. The methodology should be clear and explicit, comprehensible to a non-expert. Include any bibliographic references in full, including page numbers where relevant. This statement and the bibliographic references may not exceed two sides of A4. Please add your name at the top of the first page.”

 The John Rylands Research Institute aims to uncover, explore, unravel and reveal hidden ideas and knowledge contained within our world-leading Special Collections. We are creating an international community of scholars and researchers across many disciplines, to support research and to bring this information to the wider public in exciting and innovative ways.

Our Special Collections have huge research potential across a wide range of disciplines. Manuscripts span 4,000 years and over fifty languages, from Gilgamesh to Gaskell. There are hundreds of archives, with particular strengths in modern literature, nonconformity, and British economic, social and political history. Rare books range from the peaks of European printing, such as Gutenberg and Caxton, and one of the world’s great collections of early Italian printing, to examples of street literature and counter-cultures. There are also collections of art and visual culture, including tens of thousands of photographs which date from the inception of photography to contemporary photographic books. In addition, we hold the largest collections of maps in the North West which offer an extensive range of topographic and thematic mapping for the UK, as well as wide-ranging coverage for the rest of the world.
More information about the Special Collections and the John Rylands Research Institute can be found here:
Note: The John Rylands Research Institute will sponsor up to a maximum of two applications

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

East London Mosque archives

Anyone interested in the history of the Muslim community in Britain will be excited by a project to catalogue the archives of the East London Mosque.

Project archivist Eilís McCarthy and Dr Jamil Sherif are recorded discussing the value of the Mosque's archive, and the work which will be carried out, in a 12 minute podcast on the East London Mosque website

The archive, which comprises about 250,000 documents and occupies 26 metres of shelf space, is about to be re-packaged and catalogued, and the resulting online catalogue will be of huge interest to historians.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Dynamiques des industries culturelles indiennes, CEIAS, Paris

Kriti Arora, installation ‘Spinning wheel’, India Art Summit 2008
Fancy a trip to Paris before Christmas?  An opportunity to practice your French, whilst learning about the dynamics of Indian cultural industries? If the answer is yes, then you may be interested in an event organised by the Centre d’Études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud, on Monday 9th December 2013, entitled: Dynamiques des industries culturelles indiennes.

Regular SAALG speaker, Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes (Lecturer and Research Associate, Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge) will be presenting a paper entitled: An intimate craft of national memory: amateur filmmaking in post-colonial India.

For further details and the full programme see:

Date: Monday 9 December 2013
Location: au CEIAS, salles 638-640, 190 avenue de France, 75013 Paris

Friday, 1 November 2013

Call for papers: ‘Visual anthropology and contemporary South Asian history’

Call for papers: ‘Visual anthropology and contemporary South Asian history’ Conference, University of Cambridge, 4 – 5 April 2014 (

CFP deadline: 3 January 2014

Conveners: Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes (University of Cambridge) and Prof. Marcus Banks (University of Oxford).

The Centre of South Asian Studies (CSAS), University of Cambridge, and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH) are organising the international conference on 'Visual anthropology and contemporary South Asian history’.

This conference aims to offer historians, anthropologists and postgraduate history students a unique opportunity to share and strengthen their scholarship within a cross-disciplinary research network concerned with the crucial relevance of applying theories of visual anthropology to the study of contemporary South Asian history. Invited speakers, panelists and delegates will examine the ways in which scholarship in the field of visual anthropology informs historiographical methodologies pertinent to re-interpreting, producing, distributing, and repatriating visual records of South Asian history. Moreover, the conference will create a strategically innovative research and practice-based framework for postgraduate history students interested in experimenting with and advancing new cross-methodological approaches. During a pre-conference workshop dedicated to ‘Writing South Asian history with visual research methods’ ten postgraduate history students will work with unique visual records selected from the collections held by the CSAS.

Keynote addresses will be delivered by Prof. David MacDougall (Australian National University) and by Prof. Elizabeth Edwards (Vice-President of the Royal Anthropological Institute and Director of Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University). Prof. Alan Macfarlane (University of Cambridge) will present a special contribution. Other invited speakers include Prof. Christiane Brosius (Heidelberg University), Prof. Malavika Karlekar (Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi), Dr Lotte Hoek (University of Edinburgh), Dr Zoe Headley (Institut Français de Pondichery), Dr Kriti Kapila (King's College London), Dr Vron Ware (Open University) and Prof. Mandy Rose (UWE).

The conference will host a special session titled ‘Tamil Societies and Visibility' co-funded by the Fondation Maison Science de l’Homme, Paris, and the Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge. Speakers include Dr Sujit Sivasundaram, Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes, and Dr Remo Reginold.
 Also, CRASSH Digital Humanities network will participate in designing and developing the pre-conference postgraduate student workshop with a view to expand and integrate similar practice-based learning strategies within digital humanities programs.

The conference invites contributions addressing the following topics:

     Perspective on visual anthropology and South Asian history

     The use of visual records in producing new histories of South Asian identities
     Digital anthropology and representation of contemporary South Asian societies
     Practice-based research methods combining visual and historical studies relevant to South Asia

The organisers invite proposals for papers or presentations of 20 minutes in length. Abstracts of 300 words and an author biography (incl. institutional affiliation) should be submitted via email to by 3 January 2014. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 20 January 2014.
Any questions and concerns can be directed to Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes at 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Documenting a frontier: spectacular hand-painted fabric maps of Burma

Cambridge University Library welcomes you to 'Documenting a frontier' - an opporturtunity to view some spectacular manuscript maps of Burma dating from the 1860s, alongside rare early photographs of the region from the Royal Commonwealth Society's collection.



Map of Maingnyaung region (Cambridge University Library, MS.Plans.R.C.1)

The event forms part of the University of Cambridge's Festival of Ideas (event 66) and takes place on Saturday afternoon, 26th October 2013 in the Map Room, Cambridge University Library. Ticketed entry is at three times: 1:30pm - 2:15pm, 2:30pm - 3:15pm and 3:30pm - 4:15pm.

Please book your place online at: or by phoning: 01223 766766 (lines open Monday-Friday , 10am - 4.30pm)

Event URL:
For more information about the event, please email: or phone: 01223 333146

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Call for Research Assistance on Sikh Turbans - The Horniman Museum London

The Horniman Museum is looking for research assistance for their upcoming project 'The Sikh Turban: Exploring an Icon of a Migratory Peoples' Identity. This falls within the Horniman's review of its anthropology collections Collections People Stories: Anthropology Reconsidered which, working with communities and researchers, aims to uncover the range, scale and importance of their collections.

The aim of the Sikh & Turban project is to display an exhibition from the Horniman's collections in 2014, which will explore the turban in the context of Sikh global migration. The exhibits will demonstrate - the physical variations of turbans across the globe - consider the role of the turban in Sikh identity in relation to other head coverings such as the mitre in Europe during the Middle Ages - and examine the turban in the context of Sikh relations with Britain.

If you would be interested in helping with any aspect of the research or curating of this exhibition then please get in touch with the primary researchers Gorby Jandu and Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp More information about the Horniman museum collections can be found on their website



Friday, 16 August 2013

Southern Indian Material at the Henry Martyn Centre, Westminster College

A guest post by Lucy Hughes, Archivist of the Henry Martyn Centre in Cambridge.

 Readers of the SAALG blog may be interested to learn about the collection of material relating to missionary work in Southern India which is held at the Henry Martyn Centre, Westminster College. The items in this miscellaneous collection of books, articles and pamphlets were connected with the Reverend R. B. Budgett and range in date from 1913 to 1958.

The ‘Indian Liturgy’ (shown in the scanned image) is an abridged edition, revised in 1942, of the original order for the administration of holy communion sanctioned in 1922 by the Episcopal Synod of India for experimental use in the diocese of Bombay. In 1933 the order was given authorisation for use in any diocese of the Church of India, Burma and Ceylon. It is 2/4 in the South India collection. Within the same collection is to be found a folder of items relating to the Dornakal diocese. This folder includes a pamphlet entitled ‘Jungle Wanderings in the Diocese of Dornakal’ by Captain Hayne, undated (South India 3/7). Printed by the Church Army Press in Oxford, it is 12 pages long and contains 7 photographs of village life accompanying the detailed descriptions of life in this remote rural district, and the gradual infiltration of Christianity into the community.

Another item of particular interest is a note relating to a book entitled Andhra Christian Lyrics (South India 4/1). Andhra Christian Lyrics is an anthology published in Madras, 1937, of Christian verses popular in the Andhra region: they are printed in Hindi. According to a note (South India 2/8) found in the same collection, number 77 is the most precious of the lyrics in the volume. A story about its composition is recited in the note:

‘It is on God’s love and was composed when the author Gollapalli Nathaniel was bound in stocks by the enemies of the Christian religion. Gollapalli Nathaniel was a voluntary Evangelist. He learnt to read and write only after he was baptised with his wife in 1862. Constrained by the love of God he went about preaching the Gospel in the villages. In one of his preaching tours of 1869 the high caste Hindus of Nuramanda objected to his preaching in their streets, and had him put in stocks. Some women who took pity on him begged the Hindus in vain to give him food that night. In spite of pain all over the body Nathaniel composed this lyric on God’s love and sang it to the people who came to see him the next morning … The lyric is prescribed as the first lesson to all people preparing for baptism. It is taught to them with full explanation from the Bible. It is sung by Christians of all denominations in Andhra desa and almost all six lakhs of Christians in the Telugu area know it by heart. During Hindu festival times the lyric is printed on a separate handbill and is distributed to all non-Christians.’

Monday, 5 August 2013

Researching developing cities

Researchers interested in issues relating to the growth of cities in south and south-east Asia may be interested in a new research group, recently established at the University of Cambridge, Cities South of Cancer (CSC).  The group is currently studying four cities: Buenos Aires (Argentina), Cali (Colombia), Jakarta (Indonesia) and Khulna (Bangladesh).

Researchers explore issues to do with globalisation and architecture, poverty and urban informality, urban growth and governance, amongst other major themes. Research extends across disciplinary boundaries constantly inviting collaborations with sociologists, anthropologists, cultural theorists, urban planners, historians, lawyers and engineers. CSC emerges as a platform for interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaboration whose aim is to develop new forms of urban practice in the developing world. Group members may be contacted at

Friday, 2 August 2013

Not Orville and Wilbur

MS Add.1688, f. 19v (detail). Representation of the goddess Mayūrī from an 11th-century manuscript of the Pañcarakṣā, bought by Daniel Wright in 1873-6.
The manuscript has been catalogued and digitised for the Sanskrit Manuscripts Project and is available at 

In the world in general mention of the Wright Brothers brings to mind the pioneers of controlled powered manned flight, Orville and Wilbur Wright. In the Sanskrit world, the Wright Brothers suggest instead the beginnings of one of the most important Sanskrit manuscript collections in the world.

Cambridge University Library’s South Asian collections grew in the 1870s when one brother Daniel Wright, surgeon to the British Residency at Kathmandu, Nepal from 1866 to 1876, collected a large number of Sanskrit manuscripts on the suggestion of his brother in Cambridge, William Wright, Sir Thomas Adams’s Professor of Arabic from 1870. Their father had worked for the East India Company and William was born in Nepal. William Wright donated many Islamic manuscripts to the Library and arranged the purchase of a significant Syriac collection.

The first Sanskrit manuscripts were commissioned copies, transcripts of early manuscripts. It was only as the project progressed that it became clear that buying manuscripts of an early date that would be taken out of use when modern copies were made was the way forward. Many purchases were made through Pandit Gunanand of the Residency, with whom Daniel Wright wrote a history of Nepal (Cambridge, 1877).

We have a price list in Daniel Wright’s hand (classmark ULIB 7/1/4) showing that MS Add. 1585–1677 were purchased for £429/11/-. The famous illustrated Perfection of Wisdom (MS Add. 1643) dated 1015 cost £25! The same list shows that Daniel Wright was also sending unbound Tibetan block-printed books and Tibetan manuscripts.

South Asian manuscripts in Cambridge University Library comprise more than one thousand documents in Sanskrit and other South Asian languages, written in various scripts on different materials, such as birch-bark, palm-leaf and paper. Many have wooden covers, some lavishly illustrated. On some there are traces of offerings made in religious ceremonies: rice, sandalwood dust and red and yellow powders. The Buddhist manuscripts were catalogued by Cecil Bendall in the late 19th century (Cambridge, 1883). What Daniel Wright collected is much wider than the Buddhist core of the collection and includes works of great rarity in different genres and on a host of subjects. Among them are some of the oldest extant manuscripts from South Asia, dating from the last centuries of the first millennium CE, collected in Nepal, the only region of the Indian subcontinent where the climate allows their survival for more than a few centuries.

This collection is now being worked on by the Sanskrit Manuscripts Project which began in November 2011, funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant. The manuscripts will be catalogued and many will be digitised. Results will be collected in a multimedia archive and the records will be searchable online through the Library’s online digital library: Many are already available.

This in turn is sparking a collaborative effort with Sanskritists in the UK and abroad. Research findings will be presented through academic journals and other publications, as well as in international workshops focusing on some of the religious and intellectual traditions that have played a key role in South Asian civilisation.

For more information, see the Sanskrit Manuscripts Project webpage, which has details of current work and associated events.

Craig Jamieson
South Asian, Tibetan and Southeast Asian Department, Cambridge University Library

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Pamphlets from the former India Office Library recently added to the British Library's Online Catalogue

The British library has recently added catalogue records for a collection of about 540 pamphlets, received in the former India Office Library during the 1920s and 1930s. Catherine Pickett has written a piece for the Electronic British Library Journal which reveals that the majority of the pamphlets are South Asian imprints, some of which are very rare. For the full text of the article follow the below link

British Library European Studies Blog - Multiculturalism in 18th Century Portuguese India?

Readers of the SAALG blog may also be interested in a post recently added to the British Library European Studies Blog by Barry Taylor, Curator of Hispanic Studies. He discusses a Portuguese pamphlet in the British Library which reported the 'happy news of the conversion of a yogi, who in the religious house of Bom Jesus in Goa received holy baptism on 8 September 1735' (Lisboa Occidental: na Officina Joaquiniana da Musica, 1737) BL shelfmark: RB.23.a.21030.

For the full post including an image follow the link below:

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Duke University awarded grant from the British Library's Endangered Archives Programme

You will be interested and pleased to know that Duke University has received a grant from the British Library's Endangered Archives Programme. Full information has just been released on the Duke University Libraries Blog so do take a look.

Menri Monastery in Northern India possesses the world's largest collection of manuscripts relating to Bön, the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet. All photos by Edward Proctor. 

Pechas, or traditional Tibetan books, consist of loose leaves of handmade paper wrapped in cloth, placed between wooden boards, and secured with a belt. 
The collection also includes many tsakli, or handmade colorfully-illustrated initiation cards employed in various rituals.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

SAALG 89th Conference - South Asian Arts and Crafts - Norwich - Friday 5th and Saturday 6th July

SAALG is very pleased to announce that its next conference will take place in Norwich on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th July at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and the SADACC Trust.

Image copyright of SCVA University of East Anglia

The conference will explore South Asian arts and crafts and will include talks on: 

  • Early British Observations: The Madras and Environs Album 1804-1808’  by Diana Grattan (Collection Curator, The SADACC Trust)  
  • Indian anthropology and it’s archive’ by Dr Dan Rycroft  (Lecturer in the Arts and Cultures of Asia at the School of World Art Studies, UEA)
  • 'Networked Artist-led Initiatives in South Asia' by Emily Crane (PhD Candidate, Sainsbury Institute for Art, University of East Anglia).  

There will also be presentations by Taylor and Francis of their new ‘South Asia Archive’ and Adam Matthew Digital of the digital archive of 'Foreign Office Files for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, 1947-1980'

Following our day programme at SCVA we will move to the SADACC Trust for an introduction to its work and collections and a drinks reception.

Image copyright of SADACC Trust
Our Friday programme will conclude with a conference dinner at
the Loch Fyne restaurant in Norwich. On the morning of Saturday 6th there will be a guided tour of the SCVA galleries.

To attend our Friday programme the fee is £20.00 payable on the day (including lunch and refreshments, but excluding the conference dinner) and to attend the Saturday programme it is an additional £10.00. We encourage you to bring guests, family or friends to our conference dinner and Saturday tour, please just let us know when you book.

We are very grateful to Adam Matthew Digital for sponsoring our Drinks reception and Taylor and Francis for a donation to help SAALG with running costs for the conference.

For a full programme (including further details about accommodation options and conference dinner) or to make your booking please get in touch with Helen Porter by Friday 28th June.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Searching for Sikh Soldiers on British Medals

Enjoy a short talk, viewing session and tour of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Images of Empire display. This special event provides an opportunity to take a closer look at a selection of rare silver medals and see beautiful artwork relating to Sikh soldiers who fought for and against the British during the nineteenth century.

Open to all. Refreshments provided.
When?  Sat 15 June 2013 | 14:00 to 15:00
Where?  Seminar Room, Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge,  CB2 1RB

Free, but advanced booking recommended. Please email to book a place.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Scholars without Borders

Just a short post to introduce you to the blog, Scholars without Borders, .  I have added a link to it in our Blog List (scroll down and it is on the right hand side of this post).

Scholars without Borders is a blog written by a group of academics based at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, who are keen to promote academic books published in India to a wider audience.  It provides timely posts on new books, but also on journals, documentaries and reports.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Tagore goes online in English and Bengali

Bichitra, ( an online variorum of the works of Rabindranath Tagore, will be launched on 8 May 2013. According to Abhijit Gupta, Associate Professor of English, Jadavpur University, and Director, Jadavpur University Press, it is the largest integrated site on any author, containing nearly all of his writings in Bengali and English, in all their versions, from manuscript to print, comprising 47,520 pages of manuscript and 91,637 pages of print. Other features of the website include text files of every version of each of Tagore's works, a unique collation software (the first in Indic script), a search engine that helps locate any word or phrase used in his works, a checklist of all Tagore's manuscripts and a comprehensive bibliography of Tagore's works. The website can be navigated in three languages--English, Bengali and Hindi. The project was executed in two years by the School of Cultural Texts and Records, Jadavpur University, and was led by Sukanta Chaudhuri, emeritus professor at Jadavpur University.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Rosemary Seton Talk and Book Launch at the RAS Friday 10th May

Rosemary Seton would like to invite SAALG members to an illustrated talk she will be giving at the Royal Asiatic Society next Friday 10th May at 18.30 on her recently published book Western Daughters in Eastern Lands. There will be short contributions from Dr Emily Manktelow (University of York) and Dr Frances Wood (British Library) followed by a wine reception.

There is full information about the event and location on the Royal Asiatic Society blog

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Why South Asia? British Academy, 17 May 2013

The conference Why South Asia? is to be held at the British Academy on 17 May 2013 from 9.45am until 5.30pm.

The British Academy is running a series of events to explore the current state and continuing importance of South Asian Studies in the UK.  The series opened with a lively roundtable discussion about the present state of the academic study of South Asian Studies in the UK and included an interdisciplinary conference on Space and Spatiality in South Asia (see

As the third of these events, Why South Asia?draws upon debates in the two earlier events to assess the wider relevance and value of South Asian Studies today. It looks beyond the South Asian Studies ‘community’ in the UK to seek to examine what on-going interest in the South Asia region means to a wider constituency of ‘users’ -- in government and NGOs, in research institutions, publishing and the media. It explores the relevance of the concept of South Asia to the social sciences and to issues of policy and engagement in the UK, and asks what can be gained from the study of South Asia elsewhere in Europe and experience and in South Asia itself. Speakers include  Jo Beall from the British Council; Amita Batra from Jawaharlal Nehru University; Gita Dharampal-Frick from Heidelberg University; Lucy Rhymer of Cambridge University Press; Nira Wickramasinghe from Leiden University; and Penny Brook of the British Library. The  provisional programme is set out below.

The conference is free and open to the public but places will be limited and prior registration is, therefore, essential. Please circulate details among your contacts. To register, or for further information, please email Debbie Soothill at

Dr. Debbie Soothill
International Senior Policy Adviser
The British Academy
10-11 Carlton House Terrace
London  SW1Y 5AH, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7969 5276

British Academy

Why South Asia? The Relevance of South Asian Studies Today

A Conference to be held at the British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH on 17 May 2013

Draft programme
9.45                 Coffee
10.00               Introduction and Welcome
Helen Wallace, Foreign Secretary, British Academy
10.15               Why South Asia?
                        David Arnold, Chair, South Asia Panel, British Academy

10.30 - 12.15   Session 1: South Asia and the Social Sciences
                        Chair: Lawrence Saez, Politics and International Studies, SOAS
Matthew McCartney, Director, Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme, Oxford
Mukulika Banerjee, Anthropology, LSE
Kunal Sen, Manchester, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester

12.15-1.00       Lunch

1.00-3.00         Session 2: The Uses of South Asia
                        Chair: Barbara Harris-White, Development Studies, Oxford
                        Penny Brook, Lead Curator, India Office Records, British Library
Lucy Rhymer, Commissioning Editor, Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press
Jo Beall, Director, Education and Society, British Council
Mark Robinson, Research and Evidence Division, DFID
Yolanda Foster, South Asia Team, Amnesty International

3.00-3.30         Tea

3.30-4.45         Session 3: International Perspectives
                        Chair: Christopher Bayly, Director, Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge
                        Gita Dharampal-Frick, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg
                        Nira Wickramasinghe, Asian Studies, Leiden
                        Amita Batra, School of International Studies, JNU, Delhi

4.45-5.30         Closing Discussion
                        Chair: David Arnold

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Amateur film-making in post-colonial India

"Le Centre d’Études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud (CEIAS), Paris, is organising a seminar on the theme of  contemporary amateur filmmaking in India as part of its research programme ’Cultural industries, artistic and literary Indian scenes’. The seminar, titled “An intimate craft of national memory: amateur filmmaking in post-colonial India” will be presented by Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes (CSAS, University of Cambridge) on Thursday 4th April 2013. 
For details, see CEIAS poster:

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Shot in the arm for Medical History of British India website

A new collection of medical documents from the British Raj is now available to browse and search on the Medical History of British India website. 'Medicine - Vaccination' shows British efforts to vaccinate the Indian population against smallpox using the latest 19th and 20th century western scientific techniques. Over 60 reports reveal the complex nature and the scale of ambition of the vaccination programme in India as well as the conflict between western colonial medicine and indigenous society, culture and systems. The project was generously funded by a grant from the Wellcome Trust.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Next SAALG Conference Friday 5th and Saturday 6th July 2013 - Norwich

SAALG's 89th conference will take place in Norwich on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th July so please add the dates to your diaries. We will be focusing on South Asian Arts and Crafts over the two days - the main talks on Friday will be held at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia on Friday, followed by a visit to the SADACC Trust (South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection) and a conference dinner in Norwich. On Saturday we will have the opportunity to view the galleries at the Sainsbury Centre.

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich.
Image copyright of University of East Anglia.

The SADACC Trust, Norwich
Participants will be welcome to take part in one or both days and full details of the talks, schedule for the two days and accommodation options will be sent out in the near future.

If you have any questions in the meantime please don't hesitate to get in touch with the SAALG Chair, Helen Porter Tel: 0207 391 9424.

Lectures on South Asia at the Royal Asiatic Society

A couple of upcoming lectures at the Royal Asiatic Society have a focus on South Asia:

The next talk in the main Royal Asiatic Society lecture series will be 'African Soldiers, Governors, Nawabs and Cultural Brokers in South Asia' by Dr Shihan de Silva from the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. It will take place on Thursday 11th April at 6pm followed by a Q and A session and a drinks reception.

Following that on Wednesday 17th April at 6.30pm the RAS Student Lecture Series, Dhara D. Anjaria will talk on 'Marginalised Colonials? Non-British European Powers in India vis-a-vis the British'.

Both the lectures are free and open for all. Further information about the speakers and topics will be posted on the Royal Asiatic Society Blog , alternatively email or telephone 0207 388 4539. For directions to the Society visit the Royal Asiatic Society website.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

SAALG 88th Conference and British Library Exhibition - Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire

Participants of the 88th SAALG conference held at the British Library on Friday 8th February enjoyed a fascinating day of talks examining the Mughals, which culminated in a visit to the British Library's current wonderful exhibititon Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire.  

If you have not yet visited the exhibition it is running until 2nd April 2013 and is well worth a visit. It is the first of its kind to document the entire historical period of the Mughal dynasty, from the 16th to the 19th century, through more than 200 exquisite manuscripts and fine paintings drawn almost exclusively from the British Library's extensive collection.

A newly identified portrait of Dara Shikoh (1615-59), the favourite son and heir-apparent of Emperor Shah Jahan (r.1627-58) attributed to the artist Murar, circa 1631-32. This portrait features in the only surviving album compiled by Dara Shikoh, a passionate connoisseur of the arts and scholar of religion. The album was personally dedicated by Dara Shikoh to his beloved wife Nadira Banu Begum in 1641-42; they were married in 1633. Image Copyright of British Library

To enhance your visit you can also visit the British Library's exhibition blog  or view images available on the British Library's Facebook page . The information here complements the exhibition book by J. P. Losty and curator of the exhibition, Malini Roy, which is also a very informative and beautifully presented read.

If you were unable to make it to the SAALG conference we can highly recommend the British Library's Mughal Study Day which is being held on Saturday 9th March, which also includes a visit to the exhibition. For the full program and booking information click here.

SAALG is incredibly grateful to the British Library for hosting our conference and enabling those who attended to learn more about and engage with the sumptuous world of the Mughals. More blog posts will follow here summarizing the SAALG talks and highlighting related pieces from the exhibition, but if you can make a visit to see it in person before April please don't miss out.

With thanks to the British Library Press and Policy office for providing content and images 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

SOAS Subject Librarians' blog

I have just added a link to the SOAS Subject Librarians' blog - in the My Blog List section of the SAALG blog.   Once you have linked to the SOAS blog, use the categories on the left-hand side of the page to narrow your search to posts relating to South Asia or Southeast Asia.

The SOAS Subject Librarians' blog conveys library news relating to the regions, tips on new resources, links to useful web sites and more.  Recent South Asian post have described the 15th Asian Film Festival taking place in London, 7-17 March 2013; William Dalrymple discussing his new book, Return of a King; and a SOAS exhibition on a Tamil community in North London, which runs until 23 March 2013.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

'Exploring modern South Asian history with visual research methods' 
15-16 March 2013

CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Rd., Cambridge, CB3 9DT 

Registration is now open at  
The site also contains information on the final programme for the conference, interview, and the schedule for the pre-conference seminars.  As a preamble to the conference, the Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, is organising a seminar series that will introduce the theme of the conference. Several historians and anthropologists will discuss a selection of anthropological films of South Asia in relation to current historiographical methodologies. The series is organised in collaboration with the Royal Anthropological Institute and CRASSH. 
To find out more see

Monday, 4 February 2013

Sir Edmund Leach and Burma

Chined Kulan boats, Botel Tobago (Leach, 1936-1937; ERL/4/15)
Chined Kulan boats, Botel Tobago (Leach, 1936-1937).  King's College Library, Cambridge (ERL/4/15)
Many of you will be fascinated by the archive of the month for February 2013 at King's College, Cambridge.  The focus is on the College's archives of Sir Edmund Leach, the social anthropologist. Particular attention is paid to his early fieldwork, including the research he carried out in Burma, for which he is best known. The site includes photos, an example of his detailed sketches and notes on language. Leach was Provost of King's College, from 1966 until 1979.

To see these and other highlights from King's College archives, please visit

Monday, 28 January 2013

News from the Southeast Asia Library Group
A new issue of the SEALG Newsletter is available to download from the SEALG homepage 
It contains some of the fabulously illustrated papers which were presented at the 87th SAALG Conference / SEALG Annual Meeting 2012, including “Cartoons and propaganda from North Vietnam during the early stage of the Vietnam War” by Dr Sud Chonchirdsin, “Operation ‘Nip-Off’: some aspects of the repatriation of Japanese troops from South East Asia at the end of the Second World War in the Far East” by Dr Sue Sutton, “Ancient Buddhist Monasteries in Burma” by San San May, and “Islam, Trade and Politics across the Indian Ocean” by Dr Annabel Gallop.
SEALG has also launched a blog, which you can elect to follow by email, or RSS feed:  
It will contain regular updates about SEALG activities, annual meetings, events, conferences, exhibitions, developments in SEA librarianship and news from partner organisations.  
To post information on the blog, contact Jana Igunma at the British Library or Doris Jedamski at Universiteit Leiden.

Friday, 18 January 2013

New affiliation between the SADACC Trust and SIfA

I have been asked by Diana Grattan, Collection Curator at the SADACC Trust, and known to many SAALG members, to let you know about an exciting new affiliation between the South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection Trust (SADACC) and the Sainsbury Institute for Art (SIfA) at the University of East Anglia.

The South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection Trust was established in July 2010 as a charity (RCN 1137415) and in December 2012 it became affiliated to the University of East Anglia through the Sainsbury Institute for Art (SIfA).  Under this agreement SIfA and the SADACC Trust are working together to establish a South Asian Study Centre and Museum.  This involves SIfA using the collection and library as an educational resource in its teaching programmes and assisting in the development of the Museum.  The SADACC Trust, in turn, will help fund SIfA postgraduate work and continue to fund the development of the museum and work of the Trust.

For more information, please contact Diana Grattan at the Trust,