Thursday, 28 April 2011

The British Library celebrates Rabindranath Tagore

The British Library celebrates Rabindranath Tagore, with two performances of his greatest stage play The Post Office, and a night of poetry in English and Bengali, set to subtle jazz improvisation by Zoe and Idris Rahman.

The Post Office By Rabindranath Tagore

Friday 13 May 18.30 – 20.30 and repeated on Saturday 14 May 14.30- 16.30
The British Library Conference Centre

Marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Indian writer and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Written in 1912, The Post Office, rich in symbolism and allegory, is a play about man's passionate cry for spiritual freedom. Anita Desai called it 'as modest as a dew drop, as profound as the ocean.' Gandhi was spellbound by the play in Calcutta in 1917. Mixing simplicity with sophistication, its universal appeal has made it a world classic. Translated, and with a pre-performance talk by William Radice. Directed and produced by The Live Literature Company.

Tickets priced £7.50 (£5 Concessions) available at, by calling 01937 546546 (9am-5pm Mon-Fri) or in person at The British Library.

Flying Man (Pakshi-Manab): Poems for the 21st century by Rabindranath Tagore

Tuesday 17 May 18.30 – 20.00
The British Library Conference Centre

Translated and read in English by William Radice. The original Bengali read by Mukul Ahmed. With jazz improvisations by Zoe Rahman (piano) Idris Rahman (saxophone)

An opportunity to appreciate the poetry of the great Rabindranath Tagore, some of the most haunting and passionate in Indian and world literature. His ceaselessly inventive and remarkably modern verse may reflect on love and human yearning, on a universe both eternal and transient, or the simple joy of watching a grandchild play.

New translations over the last three decades have revealed this modernity. Our choice of poems for this programme will draw on William Radice's Selected Poems of Tagore (1985), his translation of Tagore's collected brief poems (2000) and his new translation for Penguin India of Tagore's most famous book, Gitanjali. Jazz improvisations by Zoe Rahman (piano) and Idris Rahman (saxophone) will connect the Tagore of 1912 with the Tagore of 2011 and the years to come.

Tickets priced £7.50 (£5 Concessions) available at, by calling 01937 546546 (9am-5pm Mon-Fri) or in person at The British Library.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Cricket, Imperialism and History in South Asia

 Making a hockey ball
 © A. Barrington-Brown,
Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge
Cricket fans may like to attend a panel discussion presented by SOAS Cricket team as part of their Beyond Borders tour to Sri Lanka?  

It will take place at 6.30pm on Thursday 28 April 2011 in G2, the Main Building, School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, and forms part of a series of events relating to the culture and history of Sri Lanka and South Asia. 
The panel will feature:

Prashant Kidambi on the Rise of Cricket in the Subcontinent.  From the University of Leicester, he is currently working on the history of colonial cricket tours in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Paru Raman on Cricket, Nationalism and Diaspora supporters.  From SOAS, she is currently working on the South Asian diaspora, cricketing loyalties and the politics of belonging.

Anthony Bateman on Cricket Writing and Colonial India.  From De Montfort University, he is author of Cricket, Literature and Culture: Symbolising the Nation, Destabilising Empire and co-editor (with Jeffrey Hill) of The Cambridge Companion to Cricket.

Boria Majumdar via video link.  He is a scholar, media commentator and author of Cricket and Beyond – Essays on a Sport at a Crossroads, and Twenty-Two Yards to Freedom: A Social History of Indian Cricket.

The discussion will be chaired by Shabnum Tejani (SOAS).

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Sri Lanka at the cross-roads of history

A major conference on the historiography of Sri Lanka will be held in Cambridge from Friday, 3 June 2011 to Saturday, 4 June 2011.  The full programme and online registration form are available at:
Sri Lanka lies at the centre of the Indian Ocean, where it has served as a node between Indian ocean trades: to the west, to West Asia and Africa, and to the east, to the Bay of Bengal and South-east Asia. Its location at the southern tip of India has ensured that it has received waves of conquerors, settlers, traders, dynasties and holy men. 
Sri Lanka has also been a major participant in the Theravada Buddhist ecumene extending to Southeast Asia. And its strategic location was partly why it was colonized by three successive imperial regimes: the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Yet Sri Lanka's history has remained marginal to debates in world and imperial history. The island provides a good opportunity to reconsider questions of locality and generality, connection and comparison, from a specific place.

One objective of the conference is to help to re-energize research into the history of Sri Lanka in the UK by bringing researchers whose work has touched on the island into contact with one another and with leading international scholars. However, speakers will be invited to move beyond national history by locating their work within broader and more imaginative conceptions of space, and wider debates in world history. Some speakers will be approaching their subject through 'connected history', by considering the island's place in extensive webs of empire, trade, and travel, the transnational flows of ideas, styles and goods. Others will use the island in a more strictly comparative vein too. 

Monday, 11 April 2011

Lumbini: preserving and protecting a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nepal

Professor Robin Coningham (University of Durham) will be giving a lecture at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, 23 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge on Tuesday 19th April 2011 at 5.30 pm.  Admission is free and the lecture will be followed by a reception.

The lecture is being held in association with the Britain-Nepal Academic Council (BNAC), the Centre of South Asian Studies (CSAS) and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) Nepal Study Day

Friday, 1 April 2011

Times of India 1838-2002

Times of India 15 August 1947 (Credit: Prabhvir, Flickr, creative commons)
Cambridge University Library and the Centre of South Asian Studies in Cambridge are delighted to announce the purchase of the The Times of India historical database covering the period 1838-2002.  The newspaper provides a huge resource for modern Asian studies, economics, development studies and politics generally, since the newspaper covers Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and all the countries of South-east Asia, quite apart from relations between India, a growing world power, the USSR (Russia), Britain and the USA.

The ProQuest database incorporates the Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce (1839-1859) and Bombay Times and Standard (1860-1861), as well as the Times of India (1861-current).  The Times of India is often reported to be "the world's most widely circulated English daily newspaper", and the database is certainly wide-ranging in its subject base as well as its geographical content.  Researchers studying topics as diverse as comparative religion, the Indian film industry,  the rise of Pakistan as a nuclear power, or the creation of Bangladesh will find rich resources, as will family historians or lovers of cricket.

The database allows users to browse complete issues of newspapers from cover to cover or to cross-search 164 years of newspapers.  Searches can be restricted to different parts of the newspaper, and limited by author, topic, date or date range. It is possible to view photographs, cartoons, obituaries, marriage announcements and advertisements as well as editorials and articles.  Relevant articles can then be printed, emailed or downloaded in pdf format and citations stored in a number of styles.  The 'My Research' feature allows users to track searches, save articles, create bibliographies and web pages.  The database can also be searched simultaneously with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post historical databases, resulting in some fascinating comparative reportage.

The database may be located from the Centre of South Asian Studies website -
and from the University Library's Electronic Resources directory under newspapers, ejournals or databases,
Select Times of India from the list, then select News - The Historical Times of India from the drop-down list of databases.