Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland

The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, commonly known as the Royal Asiatic Society (RAS), was established, according to its Royal Charter of 11 August 1824, to further "the investigation of subjects connected with and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to Asia." From its incorporation the Society has been a forum, through lectures, its journal, and other publications, for scholarship relating to Asian culture and society of the highest level. It is the United Kingdom's senior learned society in the field of Asian studies. Fellows of the Society are elected regularly. Fellows include highly accomplished and notable scholars of Asian Studies, and are entitled to use the honorific post-nominal letters FRAS.


The Society was founded in London in 1823, and received its Royal Charter from George IV the following year. The RAS was established by a group primarily composed of notable scholars and colonial administrators. It was intended to be the British counterpart to the Asiatic Society of Calcutta, which had been founded in 1784, by the noted Sanskrit scholar and jurist Sir William Jones. The leading figure in the foundation of the RAS was Henry Thomas Colebrooke, who was himself an important Sanskrit scholar, and one time President of the Asiatic Society of Calcutta.

When the Oriental Club of London was formed in 1824, membership of the RAS was stated as one of the four qualifications for membership of the new club.[1]

Due to the nature of the Society's close connection with the British Empire in the east, much of the work originating with the society has been focused on topics concerning the Indian subcontinent. However, the purview of the Society extends far beyond India: all of Asia and into Islamic North Africa, and Ethiopia are included. The Society does have a few limitations on its field on interest, such as recent political history and current affairs. This particular moratorium led to the founding of the Central Asian Society, which later became the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. After World War II, with the gradual end of British political hegemony 'east of Suez', the Society maintained its disinterested academic focus on Asia.

Throughout its history the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland has, while only maintaining a very modestly sized membership, always contained a great deal of very distinguished individuals, from both the academic and political world. A list of the most accomplished would include such notables as Rabindranath Tagore, Sir Aurel Stein, Sir Wilfred Thesiger, and George V. Tsereteli. This membership hails from all over the globe, but primarily the United Kingdom and Asia.


The Society is affiliated to associate societies in India (Calcutta, Bombay, Bangalore, Madras, and Bihar), with the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch (established in 1847), Japan, Malaysia (established in 1877), and Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch (established in 1900).[2] The former branch in Bombay, India is now known as the Asiatic Society of Bombay. In 2007, the North China branch was re-established; the first North China branch was founded in 1857 and dissolved in 1952. It is now known as The Royal Asiatic Society China, located in Shanghai with chapters in Suzhou and also in Beijing.


The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (JRAS) is published by Cambridge University Press four times a year, each issue containing a number of scholarly essays, and several book reviews. The present editor of the journal is Dr Sarah Ansari of Royal Holloway, University of London. The Executive Editor is Charlotte de Blois. The society also regularly publishes historical manuscripts, and monographs of the highest academic quality on numerous topics.

Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland

This fund was initially established in 1828;[3] and the results of its initial funding projects were soon forthcoming.[4] The Fund became one of a large number of Victorian subscription printing clubs which published translations, re-issued historical works or commissioned original books which were too specialized for commercial publication; but unlike most of those now defunct organizations, the work of the Royal Asiatic Society Oriental Translation Fund is on-going into the 21st century with a "new series" and "old series" microform catalog available for scholarly research.[5]


Currently, the President of the Society is Dr Gordon Johnson CBE MC TD FRAS and the Patron is His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Prince of Wales FRAS.

Past presidents

See also


Some Society publications

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society



References relating to the Society and noted Fellows

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
Wikisource has original works on the topic: Royal Asiatic Society
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 6/11/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.