The RSAA hosts regular lectures between September and June. Lectures typically take place on a Wednesday in a Central London location either at lunchtime or in the early evening.

In addition to the lecture programme, there are also a number of social events where members and their guests can meet others with similar interests.

A printed calendar is sent out to members, but dates and venues are subject to change and additional events may be added to the calendar at short notice. It is therefore advisable to check this online calendar for the latest details.

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  • MAY 2020

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Covid-19:  the Impact on Russia/China Relations – Owen Matthews

6 May 2020

Covid-19: the Impact on Russia/China Relations – Owen Matthews

Owen Matthews (@owenmatth) is a British writer, historian and journalist. His first book, Stalin’s Children, was shortlisted for the 2008 Guardian First Books Award, the Orwell Prize for political writing, and France’s Prix Medicis Etranger. His books have been translated into 28 languages. He is a former Moscow and Istanbul Bureau Chief for Newsweek Magazine. His most recent book,  An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent, was published last year.

Click here to register

Where: Online webinar

Culture and Identity:  Heritage in Post-Conflict Asian Communities, 13 May, 15.00

13 May 2020

Culture and Identity: Heritage in Post-Conflict Asian Communities, 13 May, 15.00

A panel discussion with Jonathan Rider, Daniel Skillings and Flore de Taisne.  Click here to register

Culture has the singular capacity to unite and divide communities.  Across the Middle East and South-Central Asia protracted conflicts have resulted in the loss of human life, population displacement, economic turmoil and political and social unrest and acts of ‘cultural terrorism’ have become familiar over the last two decades.  The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, of the Temple of Bel in Syria and of 40,000 ancient islamic manuscripts in Timbuktu are only the most notorious.

Behind these sensational acts, lies a steady and largely un-noticed erosion of intangible cultural heritage – traditional crafts, artisanal industries, folk stories and local traditions. Efforts to stabilise conflict and post-conflict countries rightly focus first on humanitarian assistance, followed by infrastructure, education, healthcare and economic recovery needs.  Culture is often overlooked and poorly funded, but it can play a key role in reconciliation and economic recovery.

The panel will explore the important role in that heritage can play in strengthening societies and rebuilding economies after conflicts,  drawing on their experiences in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Syria and Jordan.

Our panellists are:

Jonathan Rider – an archaeologist, he was Director of Policy, Partnerships and Communications at the Aga Khan Foundation before managing UNESCO conservation projects at Bamiyan (on which see his talk to the RSAA in February 2018).  More recently he co-founded Aleph Strategies, a research consultancy specialising in conflict and post-conflict countries.





Daniel Skillings – co-founder and Director of Aleph Strategies, was previously a Director for Altai Consulting and before that was the Program Coordinator for the Preventive Diplomacy Initiative at the EastWest Institute in Brussels.  An expert on evaluation, he has twelve years’ experience in education, agriculture, private sector development, media, governance and culture.





Flore de Taisne – starting out as an evaluation consultant for organisations such as the World Bank and United Nations, she went on to work for Turquoise Mountain in Afghanistan, before becoming the Deputy Country Director in Jordan. In 2016 she co-founded ISHKAR, a social enterprise, that helps parts of the world that have been cut off by global events, creating opportunities for artists, artisans and local guides. Flore is one of Forbes 30 under 30 for her work in social enterprise.

Where: Online panel discussion

South Yemeni Nationalism:  its Roots and its Future – Dr Noel Brehony

20 May 2020

South Yemeni Nationalism: its Roots and its Future – Dr Noel Brehony

This webinar will discuss the historical and geographic origins of South Yemeni nationalism and its influence  on the current demands for a return to an independent southern state.  Dr Brehony will examine South Arabia under the British ( 1839-1967), the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen ( 1967-1990), the south in a united Yemen from 1990 and the impact of the war since 2015 before drawing some conclusions for the future of the south.

Noel Brehony has followed events in South Yemen since he was a diplomat in Aden in the early years of the PDRY.   He is author of a history of the PDRY – Yemen Divided ( I B Tauris 2011), and co-editor with Saud al-Sarhan of Rebuilding Yemen ( Gerlach), editor of Hadhramaut and its Diaspora ( I B Tauris 2017), co-editor with Stephen Day of Global, Regional and Local Dynamics in the Yemen Crisis ( Palgrave Macmillan 2020) and co-editor of a  forthcoming book on the last years of the British period in Aden (Gerlach 2020) with Clive Jones and another with Amat Alsoswa on  post-conflict Yemen.  He is a former President of the British Society of Middle East Studies and former chair of the British-Yemeni Society and of the Council for British Research in the Levant. He is currently chair of the International Association for the Study of Arabia and an Honorary Vice President of the British-Yemeni Society.

Click here to register

Where: Online webinar

Prospects for Peace in Afghanistan:  Past, Present and Future

27 May 2020

Prospects for Peace in Afghanistan: Past, Present and Future

Sir Nicholas Kay, KCMG (@NicholasK111) is a serving UK diplomat.  He will be speaking in a personal capacity.

Sir Nichola was the UK Regional Coordinator for Southern Afghanistan and the first Head of the Provincial Reconstruction Team for Helmand Province from 2006 to 2007.  He returned as Ambassador in Kabul from 2017 to 2018.  In 2019-20 he was the NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, a role which involved him intimately in the US-brokered peace talks with the Taliban.

Between his involvements with Afgahanistan, Sir Nicholas was Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2007-10 and Ambassador to Sudan 2010-2012.  In 2012-13 Sir Nicholas was Africa Director in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office after which he became the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia in 2013-16 and UK Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa in 2016-2017.

Joining the talk as moderator of questions will be David Loyn (@DavidLoyn).  David is a writer and former BBC foreign correspondent.  He has been a regular visitor to Afghanistan for many years, including being the only foreign journalist with the Taliban when they captured Kabul in 1996.  He spent 2017-18 as advisor on strategic communications to President Ashraf Ghani:  an experience which he is currently incorporating into a new book. .

Where: Online webinar

Society Tour

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15 JUL


Asia’s Newest Flashpoint? The China-India Line of Actual Control – Michael Kugelman

Where: Online

Tickets: Free

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