Society News



Archivist Update:

Next Friday (17th December) will be my last day working as Archivist at the Society. I have enjoyed my time working with the collections over the last year and would like to give special thanks to the Director, Alison Ohta, the Librarian, Edward Weech and the Society’s Council for giving me my first Archivist role since becoming qualified. I have made the decision to move away from the archives world for the time being and will be starting a new career working as a Wedding Registrar at my local town hall.

Journal Update:

The Society is delighted to announce that Professor Daud Ali (University of Pennsylvania) has been appointed Editor of the Journal with effect from 1 January 2022.

Professor Ali is an historian of pre-Mughal South Asia. His published work covers a wide range of subjects: courtly and monastic discipline, mercantile practices, conventions in erotic poetry and courtship, slavery, ideas of space time and history in inscriptions in Southeast Asian history, and on gardens and landscape in the medieval Deccan. He is currently engaged in collaborative research projects on the history of friendship, translation of Buddhist texts on erotica, and a study of the king Bhoja cycles in western India.

Professor Ali’s first degree is in English literature from the College of William and Mary, followed by a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a PhD from the same university in medieval South Indian history. He has studied Sanskrit, Tamil, Persian and Indian Philosophy. After graduating from Chicago, Professor Ali taught for 14 years at SOAS. In 2009 he was appointed to a chair at the University of Pennsylvania. He has subsequently been the Director of the Centre of South Asian Studies at U.Penn.

The Society also announces that after nearly twenty-five years of providing core editorial support for the JRAS, Charlotte de Blois is retiring from her role as its Executive Editor with effect from the beginning of 2022. The Society thanks Charlotte for her many contributions to the Journal’s activities and achievements over this period, and wishes her a long and very happy retirement.

Christmas Closure:

With the announcement of new Covid measures, the Society’s reading room will be closing for Christmas on Thursday 16th December and re-opening on Tuesday 4th January. Readers are reminded to contact the Society’s Librarian Edward Weech: should they wish to come and view material from the Society’s collections. It would also be helpful if you could please let us know if you wish to cancel your appointment so that we are able to allocate it to someone else.

Society’s reading room

Further additions to the Digital Library:

We are pleased to announce that more collections images have now been added to the Society’s Digital Library. This includes a collection of portrait photographs of Kalmyk people commissioned by Prince Roland Bonaparte in Paris. They were taken at the Jardin Zoologique d’Acclimatation in Paris in 1883, where some Kalmyk people were ‘exhibited’ as part of an ethnological exhibition. Prince Roland Bonaparte donated the album to the Royal Asiatic Society in 1884.

Image of Photo.49/(002): Eurupschild, 35 Years Old

Congratulations to Professor Susan Bayly:

Professor Susan Bayly has been awarded a highly prestigious State Honour by the Government of Vietnam. The ‘For the Cause of Culture’ medal has been awarded in recognition of Professor Bayly’s services to leading Vietnamese cultural institutions. One of the contributions the award marks is Professor Bayly’s role in helping to organise Vietnam’s first ever loan of a national art treasure, the National Fine Arts Museum’s famous 20th-century lacquer painting entitled Gióng, for an exhibition in 2013 which was generously co-sponsored by Christ’s College at the University of Cambridge.

On behalf of the Society, we would like to congratulate Professor Bayly for this achievement. More about this can be read by clicking on the following link:


‘For the Cause of Culture’ medal that was awarded to Professor Bayly.


Last event of the year:

A reminder that we will be welcoming Leena Dhingra to the Society on Monday December 13th at 6.30pm for the launch of her publication, ‘Exhumation: The Life and Death of Madan Lal Dhingra’.

To register, please email and don’t forget to state your preference for attending virtually or in-person.