Home to almost two billion inhabitants, South Asia includes the contemporary nation states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Throughout its long history, the region between the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean has been shaped by its many connections with other parts of the world - from the religious and cultural ties offered by Buddhism, Islam and Christianity in ancient and mediaeval times to the impact of British colonialism and the globalised network of ideas, people and goods of today. Global South Asia has emerged as one of the sites where key questions about humanity’s future will be decided. What kind of ‘sustainable development’ can provide liveable lives in the age of climate change and overcome vast inequalities of wealth and power? What kind of political order can protect a democratic future in the face of growing ethnic and religious conflict?
The Centre of Global South Asia was founded in 2020 to coordinate research on the countries of the South Asian region, and to open up our long-standing expertise in the field to global and comparative perspectives. Associated staff and our substantial postgraduate student body cover a wide variety of projects and approaches: South Asia’s place in global development history, the study of Partition and its long term impact on concepts of national citizenship, the politics of space-making, memory and heritage preservation in its ever-growing cities, the changing face of religious thought and religious practices, the role of South Asian labour migration around the world, the literary representation of South Asian food cultures in contemporary diaspora literature, and the experiences of South Asian diaspora communities in Britain and elsewhere
Whilst we are based in the Department of History within the School of Humanities, our research is characterised by an interdisciplinary approach that takes ‘History’ as a licence to study all aspects of human endeavour with methods gleaned from oral history, geography, anthropology, political theory, cultural studies, literature, material culture and museum studies. Our members also include researchers based elsewhere within Royal Holloway, including the School of Law and Social Sciences, the School of Life Sciences and the Environment, and the School of Performing and Digital Arts.
Royal Holloway maintains a small but select archive of South Asia-related research materials, including a full microfilm copy of the influential early 20th century Urdu newspaper Madina, and papers relating to the Farangi Mahal family of scholars from Lucknow. As part of the University of London, our Centre also offers easy access to the world-leading resources of the British Library’s India Oriental and India Office collection, and also material held in The National Archives at Kew. We are proud to host postdoctoral researchers and visiting fellows from South Asia and elsewhere in the world.
Our postgraduate community has access to UK research funding through the TECHNE consortium as well as through Royal Holloway’s own links with the Friendly Hand charitable trust. Applications for places to study can be received at any time of the year but the annual funding round usually closes in early spring of each year.