Book Launches and Lectures

Over the past couple of weeks we have been pleased to host a number of events at the RAS. On Thursday 2nd March there were two separate events. In the Lecture Theatre, we welcomed the Armenian Institute for a lecture by Patrick Donabedian, one of the world’s leading experts on Armenian Medieval History and Arts. For 40 years, Professor Donabedian has devoted himself to the study of medieval arts of the South Caucasus, especially to the history of Armenian architecture. He lectures in Armenian studies at Aix-Marseille University, and undertakes research at the Laboratoire d’Archéologie Médiévale et Moderne en Méditerranée (LA3M), Aix-en-Provence. This was the first time that Professor Donabedian had lectured in London and we were treated to a wide-ranging survey of the architecture, art and antiquities of Armenia.

Professor Patrick Donabedian presents the Armenian Institute lecture

On the same evening, in the Council Room, Bérénice Guyot-Réchard, specialist in International and South Asian History (Kings College London) launched her new book, “Shadow States: India, China and the Himalayas, 1910-1962”.  The book looks at Sino-Indian tensions from the angle of competitive state-building, examining their simultaneous attempts to win the approval and support of the Himalayan people. When China and India both sought to expand into the Himalayas in the twentieth century, their lack of strong ties to the region and absence of an easily enforceable border made their proximity threatening. Local residents, observing China and India’s state-making efforts, were in a position to compare and potentially choose between them. Using rich and original archival research, Bérénice Guyot-Réchard’s book shows how India and China became each other’s ‘shadow states’.  The launch was enriched with a round table discussion involving Jen Altehenger, Sunil Khilnani and Jon Wilson.

Bérénice Guyot-Réchard explaining the concepts of her new book.

On Tuesday 7th March, Professor Sheila Blair, (Norma Jean Calderwood University Professor of Islamic and Asian Art, Boston College) gave a guest lecture on “Monumentalizing the Grave: Muslim-style Mausolea across Mongol Eurasia”.  Professor Blair  teaches on all apsects of Islamic art from the seventh century until modern times, and she has researched and written extensively in these areas. She used a small portion of this expertise to bring us a very interesting and informative lecture on these mausolea.


Professor Sheila Blair with RAS Director, Alison Ohta

Finally on Thursday 9th March, Dr Roy Fischel (Lecturer in South Asian History, SOAS) came to give his lecture on the “Sultans of many Idioms: Kingship, Ideology and Locality in Bijapur and Golkonda, ca.1600”. Again, we were give a very informative lecture concerning the Deccanate sultans of that period and their influence on the arts and architecture of the region.

Dr Roy Fischel at the RAS

We are grateful to all the speakers that come to the RAS, and also to the audiences that make the occasions such an enlivening time. We would particularly like to invite you to the next lecture being held at the RAS when Ed Weech, RAS Librarian, and myself, Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist, will be lecturing on some of the “characters” in our Collections. Please join us on Tuesday 14th March at 6.30 pm for “Exploring the RAS Archive: In the Footsteps of Thomas Manning and Sir Richard Burton”. Not only will you be able to hear about these eminent gentlemen (and others) but there will also be a display of archival material in the Reading Room for viewing.