Lecture content is available for RSAA members only.

PAST LECTURES

The RSAA has been hosting thought-provoking lectures from expert speakers twice a month since 1901.

We maintain a record of all the lectures that have been given to the RSAA, and transcriptions of many of the most interesting lectures have been published in Asian Affairs. In recent years we have also started filming major lectures so that members around the world can enjoy them at their leisure.

LATEST LECTURES

		    			
September 2017
Saudi Arabia and Yemen: A Difficult Relationship by Col Brian Lees LVO OBE View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Col Brian Lees LVO OBE
Job title
Retired Military Officer

After taking a degree in Modern History at Leeds University, Brian was commissioned in The King's Own
Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1954. He served in Berlin, Kenya (Mau Mau Campaign), Aden, Cyprus (EOKA Campaign).
After a course in Arabic at the School of Oriental & African Studies in London, he returned to South Arabia to command a
rifle company in the Aden Protectorate Levies on the Yemen frontier. Completed the Army Technical Staff Course and
returned to regimental duty in Berlin before a staff appointment on HQ Light Division. Further regimental duty in Malaya
as battalion second-in-command of 2nd Battalion Light Infantry. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel to command 5th
Battalion Light Infantry. Promoted to Colonel as Defence Attache in Saudi Arabia and Yemen 1975 to 1979. Head of
Army Technical Intelligence in Ministry of Defence for three years prior to appointment as Head of British Defence
Intelligence Staff in Washington in 1982. Completed military service as Defence Attache in Oman. On retirement from the
Army in 1987 joined Robert Fleming, transferring to Lehman Brothers in 1989 and then to Washington based Carlyle
Group as Senior Adviser from 1995 to 2002. Joined the Riyadh based Capital Advisory Group as Senior Adviser in 2003.
His book, "The Al Saud, Ruling Family of Saudi Arabia", was published in 1980. He is a life member of the Marylebone
Cricket Club (MCC); Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Saudi Arabia has always had a difficult relationship with the Yemen and, with the rise of terrorism, the situation has become worse. Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the war in Yemen is of considerable importance to the peninsula as a whole.

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July 2017
Sikunder Burnes: Master of the ‘Great Game’ by Mr Craig Murray View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Mr Craig Murray
Job title
Author
Website
www.craigmurray.org.uk/about-craig-murray/

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

This is an astonishing true tale of espionage, journeys in disguise, secret messages, double agents, assassinations and sexual intrigue. Alexander Burnes was one of the most accomplished spies Britain ever produced and the main antagonist of the Great Game as Britain strove with Russia for control of Central Asia and the routes to the Raj.

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June 2017
Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond by Mr William Dalrymple View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Mr William Dalrymple
Job title
Author
Website
www.williamdalrymple.uk.com

William is the bestselling author of In Xanadu, City of Djinns, From the Holy Mountain, The Age of Kali, White Mughals, The Last Mughal and, most recently, Nine Lives. He has won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award, the French Prix d’Astrolabe, the Wolfson Prize for History, the Scottish Book of the Year Award, the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, the Asia House Award for Asian Literature, the Vodafone Crossword Award and has three times been longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. In 2012 he was appointed Whitney J. Oates Visiting Fellow in Humanities at Princeton University. He lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Delhi

The talk is based on one of the most controversial diamonds in the world, the Kohinoor’ from a book by Williiam, co-authored by journalist Anita Anand. It tells about the journey of this controversial diamond with, interestingly, some unknown aspects about this precious stone.The book is an account of a saga of loot, murder, torture,

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June 2017
Is This Russia’s Moment in the Middle East? [Lord Denman Memorial Lecture] by Sir Jeremy Greenstock GCMG View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Sir Jeremy Greenstock GCMG
Job title
Retired British Diplomat

Sir Jeremy Greenstock is a former Chairman of the United Nations Association - UK, Chairman of the strategic advisory company Gatehouse Advisory Partners Ltd and Chairman of Lambert Energy Advisory Ltd, the upstream oil and gas specialists.

Sir Jeremy was a career diplomat from 1969 to 2004, developing specialisations in the Middle East, Transatlantic Relations and the United Nations. His postings included Dubai, Washington, Saudi Arabia, Paris and New York. He served as Political Director in London from 1996 to 1998, as UK Ambassador to the UN in New York from 1998 to 2003 and as UK Special Envoy for Iraq, based in Baghdad, from 2003 to 2004.

After retiring from government service, Sir Jeremy directed the Ditchley Foundation from 2004 to 2010 and worked as a Special Adviser to BP during the same period. Currently he is also Co-Chairman of the European Eminent Persons Group on the Middle East, a Member of Council at Chatham House, an Adviser to the International Rescue Committee (UK) and Special Adviser to the NGO Forward Thinking.

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May 2017
Thomas & Lucy Atkinson: Pioneers in Central Asian Exploration by Mr Nick Fielding View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Mr Nick Fielding
Job title
Author

Author

The talk is about Thomas and Lucy Atkinson in Eastern Kazakhstan 1847-1852 and a trip that Nick Fielding took with a group of 10 descendants of the Atkinsons back to Kapal in the Semirechye region of Eastern Kazakhstan – the place where Lucy gave birth to their son, Alatau Atkinson, in the foothills of the

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May 2017
Can we Rebuild the Kasthamandap? Rescue, Archaeology & Reconstruction in Post-Earthquake Kathmandu by Prof Robin Coningham View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Prof Robin Coningham
Job title
Academic

Professor Robin Coningham has joined over 20 international missions for UNESCO and has conducted field research in Bangladesh, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He is currently Professor of Archaeology at the University of Durham and his research interests include the archaeological visibility of early Buddhism, the trade in illicit antiquities, and the relationship between identity, cultural heritage and archaeological research.

The two earthquakes which struck Nepal in 2015 caused a human catastrophe. Not only did they inflict loss of life and livelihoods, they also destroyed parts of Kathmandu’s unique UNESCO World Heritage site. The monuments were not just ornate structures but living monuments playing central roles in the daily lives of thousands. Furthermore, their rehabilitation

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April 2017
War on High – Mountains as Midwives of Conflict by Ms Judith Matloff View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Ms Judith Matloff
Job title
Journalist and Academic
Website
www.judithmatloff.com

Judith Matloff teaches conflict reporting at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She has been writing about international affairs for 30 years.

After receiving a BA from Harvard, she worked as a staff correspondent for Reuters and the Christian Science Monitor on various continents before breaking out as an independent magazine writer. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Economist and Financial Times among others.

Matloff’s writing about troubled regions has been supported by various organizations including the MacArthur Foundation, the Fulbright Scholar Program and Hoover Institution. She belongs to PEN and has pioneered safety training for journalists around the world, consulting for a wide range of international media groups.

She lives in New York City with her family.

Mountains are the hardest places to conquer;  no conventional force has ever militarily defeated a defending highland population.  The attacker faces topographic as well as psychological barriers to victory. This talk will explore how the terrain and alienation of remote populations complicated conflicts in Kashmir, Afghanistan and Nepal.

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April 2017
The Great War in the Middle East by Dr Robert Johnson View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Dr Robert Johnson
Job title
Academic
Website
www.ccw.ox.ac.uk/rob-johnson/

Director of the Oxford 'Changing Character of War' Programme, University of Oxford

The First World War in the Middle East swept away five hundred years of Ottoman dominion. It ushered in new ideologies and radicalized old ones – from Arab nationalism and revolutionary socialism to impassioned forms of atavistic Islamism. It created heroic icons, like the enigmatic Lawrence or the modernizing Atatürk, and it completely re-drew the

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March 2017
The Pearl of Khorasan: A History of Herat by Mr Charlie Gammell View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Mr Charlie Gammell
Job title
Historian

Charlie is a graduate from Pembroke College, Cambridge with an MPhil in Middle East & Islamic Studies. He also has a BA in Modern History from St Catherine’s Oxford and a GDL in Law from the BPP College of Law London. Career-wise, as many of you will know from a previous lecture, Charlie was a Farsi/Pashto and Dari interpreter and Protection Delegate for the ICRC in Afghanistan (in both Herat and Khost) and in conjunction with writing his current book, about which this talk relates, he is currently an International Cultural Consultant for UNESCO in Kabul and Herat, running their their $2.4m Italian Funds in Trust Project which is safeguarding and preserving Herat’s cultural heritage in the Mosalla Complex and Gowhar Shad Mausoleum.

The city of Herat in western Afghanistan long sat at the edge of empires and served as a hub for trade and a conduit for armies. Yet it has been much more than simply a staging post or plaything of political ambition. It has been an imperial capital, a city of extraordinary wealth, and has

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March 2017
The Hidden History & Culture of the Nepal-Tibet Borderland by Dr Charles Ramble View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Dr Charles Ramble
Job title
Anthropologist/Academic
Website
www.alumni.cam.ac.uk/travel/professor-charles-ramble

Charles was educated at the University of Durham gaining a BA in Psychology and Anthropology and subsequently gained a D.Phil in Social Anthropology at Oxford. He has undertaken a wide range of Post-doctoral research in Tibetan and Himalayan studies as well as a number of visiting professorships in China and Austria. He has also published a wealth of publications on similar topics. Charles is currently Directeur d’études, Professor of Tibetan History and Philology at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Sorbonne as well as being Co-director of the Franco-German research project “Social Status in the Tibetan World” and a Research Lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, University of Oxford.

The northern borderlands of Nepal have long been recognised as a haven in which the Buddhist and Bön religions were able to survive intact during the ravages of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in their Tibetan homeland. However, more recent research in this area is beginning to shed light on aspects of civilisation that are barely

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Society Tour

RSAA 2017 TOUR OF SUMATRA

Find out more >
5 APR

UPCOMING EVENT

The Great War in the Middle East: A Study in Strategy

Where: The Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 [Nearest Underground Stations Euston Square or Warren Street]

Lecture starts at 1.15pm and ends around 2.30pm. A sandwich lunch is available from 12.30pm and must be booked via the office by 2.30pm the day before.

Tickets: Free. Members and their guests only.

Find out more > Show me all upcoming events
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