The RAS lecture series for 2016-2017 is now drawing to a close, and we have been fortunate to round things off with not one but two marvellous lectures this week. On Tuesday 13 June, Burzine Waghmar (SOAS) delivered a lecture titled “’The East is a Career’: A Centennial Appreciation of SOAS”. SOAS has been celebrating its centenary in 2016 and 2017, and in his lecture Burzine took the opportunity to highlight the intimate and longstanding relationship between SOAS and the Society.
Tracing the history of the European study of Asia back through several centuries, Burzine also explored the immediate context surrounding the foundation of SOAS, and examined its original goals. Burzine’s talk discussed the development of Oriental studies at SOAS over the course of the twentieth century, particularly focusing on figures associated with British scholarship on the Near and Middle East such as A.J. Arberry and Ann Lambton. Burzine’s lecture was an important affirmation of the role played by SOAS in British scholarship on Asia over the last century, and we are most grateful to him for delivering this talk. The lecture was followed by a discussion and reception.
The last lecture at the Society during this academic year took place on Thursday 15 June, when Dr Yolande Crowe spoke on “Armenian Merchants and Kütahya Potters in the 18th Century”. Yolande’s lecture addressed the sudden blossoming of a new decorative style on ceramic shapes in early eighteenth century Kütahya, a city famous for its kiln products. Yolande showed the origins of designs by looking into Chinese, Persian, Indian and European influences; demonstrating that the presence of Armenian merchants on the Eurasian scene was not unrelated to such influences on Kütahya potters, a number of whom were Armenian.
We are very thankful to Burzine Waghmar and Yolande Crowe for these lectures, as we are to all of those who have delivered addresses at the Society over the last year. Providing an independent forum for the sharing of knowledge and research on Asia is central to the Society’s mission, and we are delighted to have been able to host such an active and diverse programme of lectures and events over the past months. We would like to express our gratitude to all of you who have attended lectures and participated in events at the Society during the year, and hope that you will return once we have announced our lecture programme for 2017-2018.