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

Painting a Thousand Words: Timur and His Mughal Descendants

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Mughal Empire in India was founded in 1526 by Zahir al-Din Muhammad Babur. Babur was a Central Asian prince who boasted an impressive lineage. On his mother’s side he was descended from the great Genghis Khan, founder of the...

Sir Ronald Ross and the Transmission of Malaria

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

To mark the digitisation of medical archives in the India Office Records, I am highlighting some seminal research relating to Ronald Ross (1857-1932) and his important work discovering the causes of the transmission of malaria. Mosquito BL: IOR/R/15/2/1061 By the...

The Ruby Mines Murders

Monday, December 30, 2019

Amongst the Public and Judicial records of the India Office, there are glimpses into a darker side of life at the edge of Empire. Three files recently caught my eye. They deal with the case of a British Army soldier...

Out of the Fire: Lady Charlotte Canning’s diaries

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Making collections available to all is an integral part of the archivist’s role. We launch our catalogues into the world, hoping our (fair and balanced) descriptions will inspire research and enable users to find what they need. But what happens...

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.

Related events

Exhibition

Buddhism

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Discover the art, origins and its relevance today

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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