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

Lotus Sutra Project: Conservation of a burnt scroll (Or. 8210/ S.2155)

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Lotus Sutra Manuscript Digitisation Project at The British Library is a multi-year project which started in 2018. The project aims to digitise almost 800 copies of the Lotus Sutra scrolls in Chinese, with a view to make images and...

Expired through eating some unwholesome food

Friday, April 3, 2020

‘Expired ...through eating some unwholesome food’ - this is how the death of Colonel Alexander Bagot, Commandant of the 38th Native Infantry was reported in the British and Indian newspapers following his death on 20 October 1874. The Colonel was...

The National Indian Association and its handbook for students

Monday, March 30, 2020

The National Indian Association was founded in Bristol in 1871 by Mary Carpenter. Local branches were established in both England and India. Its aims were to extend knowledge of India and its people in England; to co-operate with efforts for...

Witch Trials in British India

Friday, March 27, 2020

Papers at the British Library shed light on the belief in witchcraft in 19th-century India. The India Office Records contain a wealth of correspondence and reports about the processes for discovering witches and the brutal techniques used to determine guilt...

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