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