Happy New Year

Happy New Year! Despite all the world difficulties that present themselves as we begin 2020, we hope that this year will bring some fulfillment in your research and personal activities. Here at the Society, we look forward to another year of research and lecture activities, Journal and monograph publication. In the President’s Letter to Fellows of the Society, RAS President, Professor Anthony Stockwell, endorsed this desire,

“New Year falls mid-way through the Society’s calendar and it is my opportunity to consider its activities and achievements since the summer: the wide-ranging lecture programme; the significant advances in cataloguing and digitizing treasures of the Library resulting in their availability to a worldwide readership; the publication of the thriving Journal and the monograph series; the preparations, well in hand, for our bicentennial in 2023.

“Generous donations to the Society have, amongst other things, ensured the annual award of the Bayly Prize and the conservation of the fragile Burmese Kammavaca. We are indebted, as always, to our volunteers for their work in cataloguing and conservation. Above all, the wise and indefatigable commitment of the Director and her team ensure that the Society’s purpose is richly fulfilled.” Professor Tony Stockwell, President.

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Our first lecture in 2020 will be on Thursday 16 January, 6.30 pm, when Professor Henrietta Harrison from Oxford University will talk on “George Thomas Staunton ad the Perils of being a China Expert in early nineteenth-century London.” Staunton played an important part in the early life of the Royal Asiatic Society, so it will be interesting to discover more about him from Professor Harrison.


On Tuesday 21 January, also at 6.30 pm, we welcome Dr Edward Pulford from the University of Cambridge. His theme is also China, but in a different context. His lecture is entitled, “Time and History across China’s Northeastern Borders”.

We hope that you will be able to join us for one or both of these events.

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We would also like to advertise an upcoming event at the British Museum. From 3-5 April 2020 the British Museum will host leading international scholars presenting their most recent research on the history, culture and archaeology of the early Parthian Empire. Set against the complex political scenario of Iran, Mesopotamia and Asia Minor in the 2nd-1st centuries BC, speakers will address a wide range of issues on the rise of the empire and the relationship of the early Arsacids with their neighbours. Contributions will include re-evaluations of historical sources, analyses of material datasets, numismatics and reports on new work in the field. Specific themes addressed will include diplomacy, religion, sculpture, chronology, ideological motifs, warfare and trade.

For details about the conference, including how to register, please visit the page on the British Museum website https://www.britishmuseum.org/events/east-meets-west and for any queries, contact the Organising Committee on parthia@britishmuseum.org.

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Though we look forward in anticipation to all that 2020 will bring, this newsletter ends with some sad news:

“It is with sadness that the editorial office announces the death of Professor Karel Werner on 26th November 2019 at the age of 94. Professor Werner wrote book reviews for the Journal and was most willing to help the editorial team in a variety of capacities. Originally from the Czech Republic he read, wrote, and spoke a great many languages and continued to learn new languages well into his late eighties. He had a positive attitude to life and scholarship.” Charlotte de Blois, Executive Editor.

Professor Karel Werner. Source: https://peacedevelopmentnetwork.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/2930/

Our thoughts are with all those who knew him and valued him both as friend and educator. Professor Werner contributed much to Asian studies throughout his life. Here’s hoping that 2020 will continue to see Asian studies flourishing in its many forms.