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.

You’ll need a Reader Pass

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

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

The K.Top: 18,000 digitised maps and views released

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Today we release 18,000 digital images of historic maps, views and texts from the Topographical Collection of King George III into the public domain. The collection has been digitised as part of a seven-year project to catalogue, conserve and digitise...

For your eyes only: Charles Masson’s observations on the Durrani states

Monday, October 12, 2020

Searching the name ‘Charles Masson’ online returns a healthy amount of results about a rather mysterious historical figure. Born in England with the name ‘James Lewis’, this enigmatic individual enjoyed several adventures in Asia during his relatively short life (1800-53)....

The Law of Forfeiture: Applying English Traditions in India?

Thursday, October 8, 2020

In a delicate case from 1864 the Privy Council considered whether the English practice of forfeiture following a suicide should apply to a subject of the British Raj. Following the death of Rajah Christenauth Roy Bayadoor in Calcutta on 31...

New Collections Online - September 2020

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

As the UK transitions from summer to autumn, EAP continues to publish newly digitised content. So as autumn leaves drift by your window, why not let these digital collections keep your curiosity warm? Arabic manuscripts from the Yattara Family Libary,...

More blog posts

Staff profiles

Dr Malini Roy

Head of Visual Arts

Dr Nur Sobers-Khan

Lead Curator, South Asian Collections

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

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