SOAS, University of London

SOAS, University of London is the only Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.

SOAS is a remarkable institution. Uniquely combining language scholarship, disciplinary expertise and regional focus, it has the largest concentration in Europe of academic staff concerned with Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

This means that SOAS scholars grapple with pressing issues - democracy, development, human rights, identity, legal systems, poverty, religion, social change - confronting two-thirds of humankind while at the same time remaining guardians of specialised knowledge in languages and periods and regions not available anywhere else in Europe.

This makes SOAS synonymous with intellectual enquiry and achievement. It is a global academic base and a crucial resource for London and beyond. We live in a world of shrinking borders and of economic and technological simultaneity. Yet it is also a world in which difference and regionalism present themselves acutely. It is a world that SOAS is distinctively positioned to analyse, understand and explain.

Our academic focus on the languages, cultures and societies of Africa, Asia and the Middle East makes us an indispensable interpreter in a complex world.

London Higher Europe Contact:

Dr Alex Lewis, Interim Director of Research & Enterprise
+44 (0)20 7898 4021

SOAS, University of London,Thornhaugh Street,
Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG

Professor Gerhard Kling
Professor Hugh N Kennedy
Dr Laura Hammond

Migration and displacement in Horn of Africa

08/05/2016 - 17/11/2018

The current migration and refugee crisis remains at the forefront of European debate and discussion and this research will be crucial for understanding the factors behind population movement. In a time of unprecedented global challenges, research like this continues to demonstrate the importance of our work and how our research tackles some of today’s complex global challenges. The Research and Evidence Facility will work closely with a consortium involving SOAS, the University of Oxford's International Migration Institute and Sahan Research, a Nairobi-based think tank. Dr Oliver Bakewell of Oxford IMI will lead research on migration and development, and Mr Vincent Chordi, SOAS MSc Violence Conflict and Development alumnus and long-time official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will lead the research on conflict and governance. They will be supported by Communications Officer Dr Idil Osman, who will be based at SOAS. Project Contact: Laura Hammond Lh4 @ Twitter: @lhammondsoas   ...

The Multimedia Yasna (MUYA)

01/10/2016 - 01/09/2021

The €2.5 million project led by SOAS Professor Almut Hintze‘The Multimedia Yasna’ (MUYA) will film a performance of the Yasna ritual, transcribe the words which the priests recite, and examine their meaning and how they relate to the ritual actions and to the tradition of the manuscripts. The research methods for achieving MUYA’s objectives unite cutting-edge approaches from digital humanities, philology and linguistics. These complementary datasets and methods will be used to produce a subtitled, interactive film of the Yasna ritual, and an online platform of transcribed manuscripts and editorial tools together with print editions, translations and commentaries of the Avestan Yasna. The project was commended for opening Iranian philology to digital humanities and producing unprecedented visual documentation of current ritual practices. These were deemed to be critically important objectives with potential for great impact. The project was also commended for extending far beyond its primary objective of creating a multimedia package...

Roads and the politics of thought: Ethnographic approaches to infrastructure development in South Asia

01/02/2015 - 31/01/2020

Dr Simpson, who is the Principal Investigator, will work with a team which includes Dr Laura Jeffery and Dr Kanchana N. Ruwanpura at the University of Edinburgh, an award-winning collective of contemporary artists, CAMP, who are based in Mumbai, India and at least three post-doctoral positions at SOAS. The research will be rooted in case studies of particular road projects in Pakistan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka. These sites have been selected to bring to the fore how nation-building, neo-liberalism, ambition, environmental vulnerability and modernity feature in contemporary road-building. The scholars will look at the organisation of road building on the ground, in offices, and within a broader array of institutions and state bodies in national and international contexts in order to understand the global cultures of road-building practice. The aim of the research is to survey expert opinion and uncover the ideas driving current road-building practices in South Asia. As roads are...

Multilingual Locals and Significant Geographies: For a New Approach to World Literature

01/01/2016 - 31/12/2020

These worlds will be explored through case studies in north India, the Maghreb (led by Dr Karima Laachir, SOAS), and the Horn of Africa, both chosen for their multiple precolonial written and oral traditions and different experiences of colonialism and nationalism. The project will focus on three periods: colonial consolidation, decolonisation, and the current globalising moment. It will study the local interplay of cultural traditions, local debates on world literature, old and new forms of multilingualism, and actors and technologies of print and orality. Professor Orsini, who lectures on Hindi and South Asian Literature, said: “The aim is to counter the identification of world literature with English by highlighting the multilingualism and the many factors that contribute to regional and transnational literary fields. Instead of imitation and diffusion, we’ll seek to illuminate the dynamics of appropriation and creativity.” Project Contact: Francesca Orsini fo @   ...

The Hatha Yoga Project

01/12/2015 - 30/10/2020

Dr James Mallinson, the world’s leading scholar of pre-modern haṭha yoga and lecturer at SOAS, University of London, has received an European Research Council (ERC) grant worth €1.85m to lead a research project on the history of hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is the source of much of the modern yoga practised around the world today. This five-year research project will draw on haṭha yoga’s textual corpus and fieldwork among its current ascetic practitioners, in order to reconstruct the history of its practice. The project will analyse hatha yoga and its practitioners in the period in which it was formalised, the 11th to 15th centuries CE, document its subsequent proliferation and development, and identify what constituted yoga practice in India on the eve of colonialism. It will also focus on hatha yoga’s physical techniques in order to chart their history and identify continuities with and differences from the practices of modern globalised yoga. Dr...

Doing Intimacy: A Multi-sited Ethnography of Modern Chinese Family Life

01/10/2015 - 30/09/2020

The five-year project, titled 'Doing Intimacy: A Multi-sited Ethnography of Modern Chinese Family Life’, will provide the first comprehensive study of practices of intimacy in Chinese families, their intertwining with gender and intergenerational dynamics, and interrelations with local and global change. The research will be rooted in case studies of Chinese communities in urban and rural China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. These sites have been selected to bring to the fore how particular socio-economic- political and cultural configurations feature in intimate family practices. The project will provide sophisticated answers to complicated questions such as 'How are Chinese families changing and adapting to wider social changes?' and ‘How do different socio-economic and political configurations shape family behaviours?’ Speaking about the sizeable grant from the European Research Council (ERC), Dr Liu said: “East Asia is experiencing extraordinary socio-economic development and rapid demographic transition. Through the case study of Chinese families, the project will throw...