Bayly Prize 2023 and a New Archives Catalogue for the Society

Last evening, Thursday 25th April, the Society were pleased to welcome the winner and shortlisted candidates of the Bayly Prize 2023 to celebrate their achievements and hear about their research. As mentioned in last week’s blog post the Prize was established by friends and colleagues of Professor Sir Christopher Bayly FBA to mark his outstanding contribution to the study of world history and that of Asia in particular. The Prize is awarded for a distinguished thesis in an Asian subject falling within the scope of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society or of Modern Asian Studies, the thesis having been approved for the PhD degree at a British University in the preceding year.

Dr Thomas Barrett with RAS President Professor Sarah Ansari

The winner of the 2023 award is Dr Thomas Barrett (currently Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Faculty of Asian and Middle East Studies and a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge) for his thesis entitled, ‘Foreigners and the Making of the Chinese Diplomat’ in which he examines the significance of foreigners who were employed as counsellors, secretaries, legal advisors and consuls in late Qing and early Republican China, and how these roles changed over that period. By this he traces how Western European diplomatic culture and practice came to be institutionalised in China in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Thomas shared with us a summary of his research as did the three shortlisted candidates:

  • Dr.Mariano Errichiello (currently Shapoorji Pallonji Lecturer of Zoroastrianism, Co-Chair and Executive Director of the Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies at SOAS) shared his work on  Zoroastrian history.
  • Dr. Kelsey Granger (currently an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow affiliated with Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich) shared her research on lapdog keeping in medieval China.
  • Dr. Yui Lo i(currently Lecturer in Modern Chinese and East Asian History at the University of Oxford) summarised how in the late 1930s and 1940s Chinese and Indian policymakers and intellectuals imagined post-war Asia.

We extend our congratulations to all these researchers and wish them success in their continuing research. The closing date for the Bayly Prize 2024 was on 12 April. The entries have been sent to the independent panel of judges to begin their evaluation and we look forward in due course to announcing the winner.

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Next week, on Thursday 2 May, 6.30pm, we welcome Dr Paul Bevan and Dr Susan Daruvala for the launch of their book, ‘One Man Talking: Selected Essays of Shao Xunmei, 1929–1939’. Shao Xunmei was a poet, essayist, publisher, and printer, who played a significant role in the publication and dissemination of journals and pictorial magazines in Shanghai during the 1920s and 1930s. Though his poetry has often been translated this is the first collection of his prose writings to be published in English. We hope you will be able to join us in person or via zoom (contact Matty Bradley for link).

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I am  pleased to announce the Society has a new bespoke archive catalogue. Finding an alternative catalogue system became necessary when Archives Hub, who had provided an efficient service since the beginning of my time here as archivist, withdrew their Editor function because of potential security problems. This meant that though they were still able to host existing catalogues, I was unable to create new catalogues. Working with Max Communications, who also host our Digital Library, and using the AtoM platform of archival software we have created the Royal Asiatic Society Archive Catalogue.

The site currently hosts 263 catalogues with those for the Society’s Forlong Fund, the Society’s Collections Catalogues and Handlists, and the Papers of Derek Davis (1945-2023) currently being prepared. Alongside editing all the existing catalogues to ensure their accessibility on the new system, some new catalogues have been added including those for Royal Asiatic Society: Finance, the Papers of Barbara Ingham and for a Kalmyk-German dictionary thought to have been owned by Julius Klaproth.

Kalmyk-German Dictionary (SC55)

Though this catalogue is solely for the Society it will be possible to migrate all the information to Archives Hub who also share it with Archives Portal Europe ensuring wide access to information about our archival holdings.