Anniversary General Meeting 2024

The Anniversary General Meeting for the Society was held yesterday evening, Thursday 16 May. The meeting was opened by the outgoing President, Sarah Ansari who asked the gathered Fellows to agree to the previous year’s minutes. This done, The Treasurer, Elizabeth Robb, gave her report of the financial state of the Society. Despite the large expenses of the bicentenary year, the Society is fiscally in a healthy state.

Elizabeth Robb, Treasurer, gives her report.

Sarah Ansari then resumed the lectern to deliver the report of the Council and her President’s address in which she told of the many activities associated with the Society’s bicentenary year including special lectures and significant Journal issues, the bicentenary exhibition, Extraordinary Endeavours, and the re-issuing of James Tod’s Annals and Antiquities of Rajast’han with additional volume by Norbert Peabody. She also asked those present to agree the accounts and to appoint the new officers and members of Council. Dr Norbert Peabody will serve as President for the forthcoming three years, Professor Sarah Ansari will remain on Council and Dr Gai Jorayev, Professor Javeed Majeed, Dr Jochen Sokoly and Professor Surya Subedi also join the Council.

Outgoing and Incoming Presidents Professor Sarah Ansari and Dr Norbert Peabody

Vice-President Gordon Johnson next rose to thank both Sarah Ansari and our Director Alison Aplin Ohta for their service to the Society over many years and his great pleasure in being able announce the Council’s decision to award them both the Bicentenary Medal of the Society. Dr Johnson presented the medal to Professor Ansari and she, in turn, presented the medal to Dr Ohta.


Alison Ohta and Sarah Ansari with their bicentenary medals in front of the Society’s Jambūdvīpa (RAS Head Cat. 069.001).

This concluded the business part of the evening. After a short interval in which many non-fellows joined us, Professor Dr Julia Hegewald delivered the anniversary lecture, Jambūdvīpa and other Jaina Cosmological Representations from India in which she explained some of the significance of the Jain cosmology as pictured in the Jambūdvīpa, not only considering the gouache on cloth image in the Society’s collections but also many other two and three dimensional representations. A discussion followed her interesting and informative lecture in which many members of the audience were keen to gain further insight. We are grateful to Professor Hegewald for taking the time to share her research with us.

Professor Dr. Julia Hegewald

After a drinks reception, many Fellows joined officers and members of the Council in the Council room for a meal to celebrate the occasion. This also afforded an opportunity to view the Society’s Jambūdvīpa which has been hung in the room following its return from the Extraordinary Endeavours Exhibition.

The Anniversary General Meeting was not the only special event this week. On Tuesday 14 May we welcomed Henry Barlow, Honorary Treasurer of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, who spoke to us on the history of the Malaysian Branch and how it has survived and thrived through almost 150 years. The President and Council of the MBRAS also sent several of its publications to donate to our Society’s collections. We are grateful to Henry Barlow for his knowledgeable lecture and to the Malaysian Branch for their generosity towards us.

Henry Barlow, Honorary Treasurer, MBRAS

The next lecture in the Society’s calendar will be held in Dublin! The Society, working in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin and the Chester Beatty, present a lecture by Professor Jane Ohlmeyer (Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History at Trinity College, Dublin) entitled Making Empire: Ireland and India, on Thursday 30 May, 6.30 pm. We recommend this event to all our Irish fellows and to other in Ireland interested in Asian studies. It will take place at the Trinity Long Room Hub at Trinity College. As part of the celebrations, Dr. Moya Carey, Curator of Islamic Collections and Dr. Ai Fukunaga, Curator of East Asian Collections at the Chester Beatty have also generously offered to lead special viewings of the Islamic and the East Asian Collections. The Society is eager to celebrate its long connection with Irish scholars working on Asia while publicising its prizes among students at Irish universities. The event has been made possible by the generous support offered by Dr. Anna McSweeney of Trinity College, Dublin, Dr. Moya Carey and Dr. Ai Fukunaga of the Chester Beatty.