On Thursday, 12 May 2016, the Royal Asiatic Society presented Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams (SOAS) with the Denis Sinor Gold Medal for Inner Asian Studies. The Sinor Medal was inaugurated in 1993 with the endowment of Professor Denis Sinor, to honour the finest Inner Asian scholarship by the conferring of a triennial medal.
Following an introduction and presentation of the medal by RAS President Dr Gordon Johnson, Professor Sims-Williams delivered an enthralling lecture on “The Bactrian archives: reconstructing the lost history of Ancient Afghanistan”. Using an array of largely unstudied documents that have only recently become available to scholars, Professor Sims-Williams revealed a number of fascinating insights not only into the Bactrian language but also into the political and social history of ancient Afghanistan.
The originality and scope of the presentation, as well as the underlying research and scholarship, gave rise to a rich and lengthy discussion after the lecture, with a large number of contributions and questions from the audience.
Professor Sims-Williams’ lecture followed the Society’s Annual General Meeting, which had taken place earlier that evening. A stimulating and productive day for the Society was suitably concluded by a very enjoyable reception.
On Tuesday 17 May, we were delighted to host the latest lecture in our Fresh Perspectives series. This saw Cam Sharp Jones (Manchester University) lecture on “Indian tribal ethnography in the 19th century”. Cam examined the role of a number of different British ethnographers working in different parts of India over the course of the nineteenth century, and the active role they played in interpreting and representing tribal communities to Western audiences.
Cam’s lecture considered the outcomes and legacies of this work and how it was carried forward into the twentieth century. The lecture proved both insightful and deeply thought-provoking, and was followed by a succession of questions and contributions from attendees, which continued into the post-lecture reception.
The next few weeks are set to be busy ones at the Society as we have a large number of lectures and events coming up. Next week sees several events: on Wednesday 25 May we host a book launch for “Mount Sinai: a history of travellers and pilgrims” by George Manginis (SOAS); while Thursday 26 May sees Celia Washington lecture on the Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre, as part of our series celebrating Britain and Nepal: 1816-2016. On Wednesday 1 June, Professor William Lubenow (Stockton University) will lecture on “West to East/East to West: the Royal Asiatic Society and Western knowledge of Asia”, which is sure to be a very interesting evening. We hope that you will join us for these marvellous events.