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

		    			
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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February 2017
Christianity, Islam and the Medical Renaissance – from Asia to Barts by Mr Harvey White View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Mr Harvey White
Job title
Consultant Surgeon

Harvey was educated at Winchester and Magdalen College Oxford, before undertaking his medical training at St Bartholomew’s, becoming FRCS in 1970. He had previously worked as an anatomy demonstrator at University College and subsequently lectured in physiology and undertook notable physiological research at Bart’s. He became Consultant Surgeon at The Royal Marsden Hospital in 1976, and later held similar positions at King Edward VII Hospital for Officers, St Luke’s Hospital for the Clergy and The London Clinic. He has held senior positions with several medical organisations including President of the Medical Society of London, Vice President of the British Association of Surgical Oncology and Royal Society of Medicine. He has received many scholarships and awards in recognition of his work including, in 2012, being the first recipient of the Royal Society of Medicine Medal – honouring his long and distinguished service to the Society. From an early stage in his career, Harvey has been involved in writing and editorial work, including numerous books and papers on oncology and medical history. He is also a frequent guest lecturer.

Therapeutic medical traditions from Asia filtered through to the Middle East largely as a result of established trade routes. Dissent within the hierarchy of the Christian Church culminated in the Patriarch Nestorius being declared a heretic at the Council of Ephesus in 431CE. Following this, scholars from Constantinople fled East and took with them the

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February 2017
The NLF’s Successful Campaign for Power in South Arabia 1963 – 1967 by Dr Noel Brehony CMG View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Dr Noel Brehony CMG
Job title
Former Diplomat

After doing a PhD on Libya, Noel joined the FCO where he was posted to Kuwait, the PDRY, Jordan and Egypt. Noel was also Head of Chancery in the British Embassy in Aden in 1970. He is chairman of Menas Associates and a past chairman of the Middle East Association, the British-Yemeni Society, the Council for British Research in the Levant and the British Society for Middle East Studies. He wrote Yemen Divided published in 2011 ( on the PDRY) and co-edited Rebuilding Yemen ( 2016) and edited 'Hadhramaut and its Diaspora' which will be published later this month by I B Tauris.

The National Liberation Front founded only in 1963 took over South Arabia to form the People’s  Republic of South Yemen on 30 November 1967.  Much has been written about the violent struggle of this period from the British perspective. In this talk, Dr Brehony will draw on the writings of, and interviews with, NLF leaders

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January 2017
Travels Along the Silk Road by Sir Terence Clark KBE CMG CVO View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Sir Terence Clark KBE CMG CVO
Job title
Ex-Diplomat

Sir Terence qualified as an RAF Russian interpreter before joining the Diplomatic Service but then became an Arabist and spent much of his career in or dealing with the Middle East, notably as Ambassador to Iraq and Oman. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and his subsequent retirement opened the way for him to achieve a long-held ambition to explore the Silk Road in Central Asia, aided by his knowledge of Russian, the Islamic world and hunting hounds.

A liberally illustrated narrative of travels over the past 15 years from Baku to Xian to explore some of the historic features of the Silk Road in Central Asia and to meet some of the colourful people who live there today. The ulterior motive was to gather scientific data on the native hunting hounds along the

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January 2017
The Second Anglo-Sikh War by Mr Amarpal Sidhu View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Mr Amarpal Sidhu
Job title
Military Historian
Website
www.sikhfoundation.org/people-events/book-review-the-first-anglosikh-war-by-amarpal-singh-sidhu/

Amarpal is 54 years old and lives in London with wife and two sons. He is a Software Engineer by trade, but has always had an interest in military history right from a young age and has been doing research on the Anglo-Sikh Wars for the last ten years.He regularly visits and researches the battlefields of the First Anglo-Sikh War during his trips to India.He managed to discover the last remaining sections of the Sikh battlefield entrenchments at the Anglo-Sikh battlefield of Sabraon five years back. He has also appeared and collaborated in several BBC documentaries related to Sikh History, Sikhs during the World Wars and the Anglo-Sikh Wars. He runs the Sikh Military History Forum Facebook forum which has a membership of nearly 40,000 and also contributes articles regularly to the Britannia Magazine. He published his first book on the First Anglo-Sikh War in 2010 which is available in both hardback and soft back. His new book on the Second Anglo-Sikh War came out just a few months ago in August 2016 and he is now currently researching for a new book on Europeans in India during the late seventeenth century.

The Second Anglo-Sikh war was a conflict no-one expected. In April 1848, two British officers were killed by a mutinous garrison in the southern Punjabi city of Multan. The murders triggered a local rebellion which over the months would develop into full scale war. The result would be the annexation of the whole of the

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December 2016
Tales from the Hindu Kush by Tales from the Hindu Kush by Mr Antony Fitzherbert OBE View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Tales from the Hindu Kush by Mr Antony Fitzherbert OBE
Job title
Agricultural Rural Development Specialist

Mr Anthony Fitzherbert OBE is an Agricultural Rural Development Specialist. His work with Afghan villagers, farmers and herders has taken him to almost every corner of rural Afghanistan over the last thirty years; from the Pamir mountains to the Sistan Basin, from Heart to Nuristan. He still visits the country regularly on a professional basis. He will recount a selection of illustrative anecdotes and experiences from his years of work and travels in Afghanistan going back to the days of Soviet occupation and withdrawal to the present time and the withdrawal of the Western powers.

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November 2016
Alone in the Jungle: The Ho Chi Minh Trail by Motorcycle by Ms Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
Ms Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent
Job title
Author/Producer
Website
www.theitinerant.co.uk

Antonia graduated with an MA in History from Edinburgh University in 2001. Between 2003 and 2015 she has worked on a variety of television series including 'Spitfire Ace' a critically acclaimed series about the Battle of Britain, 'The South Bank Show', 'The Grail Trail' (A documentary exploring the phenomenon of the Da Vinci Code). Producer/Author of ‘Tuk to the Road’, driving a Thai Tuk Tuk from Bangkok to Brighton in aid of Mind, the mental health charity. Other credits include Producer of the ‘World’s Most Dangerous Roads’, Tom Hardy’s 'Poaching Wars' about elephant and rhino poaching in Africa, Development Producer for ‘Inside the World’s Greatest Markets', Simon Reeve’s 'Caribbean' and developing natural history, anthropology and science ideas for BBC Earth productions in Bristol. Her book about her solo journey down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the topic of tonight’s lecture, has been featured on Radio 4 and in numerous global magazines, radio shows and newspapers.

The tale of Antonia’s two month solo motorcycle journey down the remnants of Indochina’s legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail.  40 years after the end of the Vietnam War Antonia wanted to explore what remained before it was too late. Jungles, mountains, UXO, remote tribal regions and more…

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November 2016
British Counter-Intelligence in Iran in WWII by British Counter - Intelligence in Iran in WWII by Dr Adrian O'Sullivan View bio

SPEAKER BIO

Name
British Counter - Intelligence in Iran in WWII by Dr Adrian O'Sullivan
Job title
Intelligence Historian

Dr O’Sullivan received his Doctorate in Intelligence History from the University of South Africa with a Thesis on German Covert Initiatives and British Intelligence in Persia (Iran) during the Second World War. Having trained as a Germanist and translator in Alberta, he has come to intelligence history post-career and late in life, but hopefully not too late to fill some significant gaps in the narrative of Anglo-German clandestine warfare, most notably with respect to the Middle east. In May 2015, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, becoming an Emeritus Fellow in April 2016.

He is based in Vancouver and is currently in England pursuing his research in the National Archives.

He has spent six years in the German, American and British Archives, investigating the secret world of wartime Iran, a field which has hitherto been neglected by historians. The result is a pair of books, one on the Nazi effort and the second on the British counter-intelligence effort, the topic of this talk.

  Adrian O’Sullivan has spent six years investigating the secret world of wartime Persia (Iran) in the German, British, and American archives, a field hitherto neglected by intelligence historians. Using previously classified sources, he examines the highly effective methods employed by British security intelligence to safeguard the lines of communication, the Lend-Lease supply route from

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Society Tour

RSAA 2017 TOUR OF SUMATRA

Find out more >
5 JUL

UPCOMING EVENT

Sikunder Burnes: Master of the ‘Great Game’

Where: The Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD [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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