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    Coetzee, Carli and Kitchen, Stephanie 2018. The past and future of Journal of African Cultural Studies. Journal of African Cultural Studies, p. 1.

    Stanziani, Alessandro 2018. Eurocentrism and the Politics of Global History. p. 91.

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Book description

The School of Oriental and African Studies, a college of the University of London, was established in 1916 principally to train the colonial administrators who ran the British Empire in the languages of Asia and Africa. It was founded, that is, with an explicitly imperial purpose. Yet the School would come to transcend this function to become a world centre of scholarship and learning, in many important ways challenging that imperial origin. Drawing on the School's own extensive administrative records, on interviews with current and past staff, and on the records of government departments, Ian Brown explores the work of the School over its first century. He considers the expansion in the School's configuration of studies from the initial focus on languages, its changing relationships with government, and the major contributions that have been made by the School to scholarly and public understandings of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.


‘Insightful, empathetic, and wryly amusing, Brown provides a magisterial account of one of the UK's most idiosyncratic academic institutions. In surveying a century of opportunity and uncertainty, he unfolds a compelling tale of leadership, scholarship, and quirkiness set amidst troubled times, educational upheaval, and a wavering sense of national need.'

David Arnold - University of Warwick

‘Ian Brown has given us a masterly study of an educational and institutional transformation under pressure, as seen from within its agonised and sometimes acerbic working-party debates … The change from serving government's needs at the state's expense (most directly in the Second World War) to meeting the priorities of teenage university candidates on student loans was made not without cost, particularly to the provision of language teaching. An account of that transition makes this book a contemporary history of change in Britain's university system as much as in SOAS, a singular institution.'

John Lonsdale - University of Cambridge

‘Ian Brown has written an authoritative institutional history without losing sight of the individuals who populate it. The School of Oriental and African Studies is one of the world's foremost centres of teaching and scholarship over its vast range of interests. Ian Brown shows that its very survival is near-miraculous, as it faced other jealous institutions, government bureaucracies full of promise and short on their fulfilment, parsimonious governments and indifferent commercial interests … This is a fine example of what an institutional history should aspire to be.'

M. C. Ricklefs - Australian National University

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  1. [i] Records of the School administration: generated by the senior administration of the School, these records are by far the most important primary source for this history. They are indicated by the prefix SOAS R, followed by the file number, for example, SOAS R 10/4.

  2. [ii] Personnel Files: indicated by SOAS PF

  3. [iii] Diary of Sir E. Denison Ross, 1916–1917: SOAS Library PP MS 8

  4. [iv] Ralph Turner, uncatalogued papers: SOAS Library MS 381250

  • Public and Judicial Department series: L/PJ

  1. [i] Board of Education: ED

  2. [ii] Colonial Office: CO

  3. [iii] Foreign Office: FO

  4. [iv] Foreign and Commonwealth Office: FCO

  5. [v] Security Service, personal files: KV 2

  6. [vi] Treasury: T

  • Council of the Central Asian Society, minutes of meetings

  • Papers in the possession of Sir Michael McWilliam

Colonial Office, Post-war Training for the Colonial Service. London: HMSO, 1946
Foreign Office, Report of the Interdepartmental Commission of Enquiry on Oriental, Slavonic, East European and African Studies. London: HMSO, 1947
Foreign Office, Hansard [the edited verbatim report of proceedings of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords]
Foreign Office, Minutes of Evidence taken by the Committee appointed by the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury to consider the Organisation of Oriental Studies in London. London: HMSO, 1909
Oriental Studies Committee, Second Interim Report and Appendices regarding proposed School of Oriental Languages in London, presented to both Houses of Parliament, 1913
Oriental Studies Committee, Report of the Committee appointed by the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury to consider the Organisation of Oriental Studies in London. London: HMSO, 1909
University Grants Committee, Report of the Sub-Committee on Oriental, Slavonic, East European and African Studies. London: HMSO, 1961
  • Calendar, annual, 1926–: SOAS Library PER 50110

  • Report of the Governing Body and Statement of Accounts, annual, 1917–: SOAS Library PER 77990

  • Daily Sketch

  • Daily Telegraph

  • Evening Citizen

  • Evening News

  • Glasgow Herald

  • Graphic

  • Great Britain and the East

  • Guardian

  • Independent

  • Irish Times

  • Manchester Guardian

  • Morning Post

  • New York Times

  • Observer

  • Sunday Times

  • The Times

  • Times Educational Supplement

  • Times Higher Education Supplement [Times Higher Education]

  • Times of India

  • Washington Post

  • Western Mail

  • Westminster Gazette

  • Yorkshire Evening News

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  • J. A. (Tony) Allan [SOAS, Geography, Near and Middle East], 24 March 2015

  • Graeme Appleby [SOAS, Director of Finance and Planning], 22 April 2015

  • Robert Ash [SOAS, Economics, China], 6 November 2014

  • Hugh Baker [SOAS, Chinese], 25 November 2014

  • Tim Barrett [SOAS, History/Study of Religions, China], 25 March 2015

  • Richard Bowring [Cambridge, Japanese Studies], 24 March 2015

  • Robert Bradnock [SOAS, Geography, South Asia], 12 March 2015

  • Colin Bundy [SOAS, Director], 5 May 2015

  • Simon Coldham [SOAS, Law, Africa], 28 July 2015

  • Christopher Cramer [SOAS, Development Studies], 13 April 2015

  • Matthew Craven [SOAS, Law], 25 June 2015

  • Frank Dabell [SOAS, School Secretary], 18 March 2015

  • Ben Fine [SOAS, Economics], 30 March 2015

  • Graham Furniss [SOAS, Hausa], 24 March 2015

  • Martin Harris [SOAS, Governing Body], 8 May 2015

  • Rachel Harrison [SOAS, Thai], 26 May 2015

  • Gerald Hawting [SOAS, History, Near and Middle East], 20 April 2015

  • Christopher Howe [SOAS, Economics, China and Japan], 19 November 2014

  • Michael Hutt [SOAS, Nepali], 29 April 2015

  • Keith Jeffery [Queen’s University Belfast], 20 September 2014

  • Ulrich Kratz [SOAS, Indonesian and Malay], 24 November 2014

  • Tim Lankester [SOAS, Director], 31 March 2015

  • Jens Lerche [SOAS, Development Studies], 18 March 2015

  • Michael McWilliam [SOAS, Director], 14 May 2015

  • Shula Marks [SOAS-ICS, History, South Africa], 16 June 2015

  • Adrian Mayer [SOAS, Anthropology, South Asia], 16 July 2015

  • Werner Menski [SOAS, Law, South Asia], 13 August 2015

  • E. (Ted) O’Connor [SOAS, School Secretary], 10 December 2014

  • Desmond Painter [SOAS Schoolteacher Fellow], 8 September 2014

  • David Parkin [SOAS, Anthropology, Africa], 8 June 2015

  • J. D. Y. (John) Peel [SOAS, Anthropology, Africa], 25 June 2015

  • Richard Rathbone [SOAS, History, Africa], 25 June 2015

  • Peter Robb [SOAS, History, South Asia], 7 May 2015

  • Louise Roberts [SOAS, Enterprise Manager], 7 May 2015

  • Christopher Shackle [SOAS, Punjabi, Urdu], 8 April 2015

  • Nora Shane [SOAS, Director’s Secretary], 10 July 2015

  • Richard Tames [SOAS, External Services], 19 November 2014

  • Robert Taylor [SOAS, Politics, South East Asia], 4 November 2014

  • Charles Tripp [SOAS, Politics, Near and Middle East], 22 April 2015

  • Paul Webley [SOAS, Director], 16 April 2015

  • John Weeks [SOAS, Development Studies], 13 April 2015

  • Richard Widdess [SOAS, Music, South Asia], 14 May 2015

  • Owen Wright [SOAS, Music, Near and Middle East], 9 December 2014

  • Malcolm Yapp [SOAS, History, Near and Middle East], 20 November 2014


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