We have rich resources for the study of South Asia past and present. South Asia is taken to include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Collection guides

Readers at desks in the Asian and African Reading Room

Asian & African Studies Reading Room

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic books and journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues

If you need help, just ask our Information Specialists at the Reference Enquiry desk or contact the Asian & African Studies Reference Team.

We offer a range of free Reader sessions and 1-2-1 consultations to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

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Mon: 10.00 – 17.00
Tue – Sat: 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays: closed

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

New online - June 2022

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

We have another 4 new projects online to bring to your attention. This time from Indonesia, Iran, India, and West Africa: Bima Manuscripts [EAP988] Zoroastrian historical documents and Avestan manuscripts [EAP1014] Private records of leading business families of Early Colonial...

Birds, Landscapes, and Letters: Elizabeth Gwillim and Mary Symonds in Madras

Thursday, June 16, 2022

In 1802, Mary Symonds wrote to her sister Hester James from Madras (now Chennai), 'I hope now we are settled that I shall be able to send something for the curious by every opportunity'. Mary Symonds, Coast Near Madras, The...

Mary Day: Pardoning of a Poisoner

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

In April 1777 Mary Day was indicted, arraigned and convicted of petty treason and murder at Madras. She was found guilty of administering a poisoned drink to her husband Thomas Day, a sergeant with the East India Company, who had...

Five Indian indentured labourers picked up at sea

Thursday, June 9, 2022

In 1830, a new system for providing workers for British and French colonies was introduced following the abolition of slavery in Britain. Known as the indentured labour system, workers could be recruited for a specified time, during which the employer...

More blog posts

Staff profiles

Dr Malini Roy

Head of Visual Arts

Dr Antonia Moon

Lead Curator, post-1858 India Office Records

Dr Margaret Makepeace

Lead Curator, East India Company Records

More staff members

Case studies

More Case studies
…The BL Newspaper collections are vast and in many cases also rare and unique in their content and collection histories. …

Junaid-Ul-Hassan is a Chevening Fellow working at the British Library on a project titled ‘News and Media in South Asia: Past and Present’.

…The archival material provides fascinating insights…

Christian is evaluating the archival material of Dutch ethnomusicologist Arnold Adriaan Bake.

Featured collection items

Projects

Sinhalese Manuscripts Pilot Digitisation Project

A pilot digitisation project that aims to make freely available four palm leaf manuscripts from the British Library’s Sinhalese manuscript collections

Two Centuries of Indian Print

An international collaboration to digitise South Asian printed books

Digital access to Persian Manuscripts

Our collection of Persian Manuscripts is one of the most important in the world

All projects

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Centre of South Asian Studies

University of Cambridge

Find my past

Records of baptisms, marriages, burials, wills, pensions, military and civil career information

The National Archives

Records relating to the East India Company, and the Family Records Centre