The RSAA was founded as the Central Asian Society in 1901 to promote greater knowledge and understanding of the region. Over the past century, the Society’s area of focus has expanded to encompass all of Asia, from the Middle East to Japan. The Society was renamed the Royal Society for Asian Affairs in 1975 to reflect its widened scope.
The RSAA’s Council provides a programme of lectures and events to enable those with an interest in Asia to increase the breadth of their knowledge and to keep abreast of developments in the region. The most recent copy of the Society's Accounts can be downloaded by clicking here.
Details of the Society's history, Strolling About on the Roof of the World, and how to order it can be found here.
The Society’s activities may be summarised as follows:
Meetings are held twice a month at 14 Belgrave Square, or other central London venues, and are usually comprised of an illustrated lecture by an authoritative speaker, followed by questions from the audience. Topics include current affairs, economics, finance, history, art, archaeology, sociology, culture, travel and other subjects of special interest connected with Asia.
Social Functions include a biennial Society Dinner at a central London hotel, alternating with the President’s Reception (venues vary) and an annual summer tea party on the House of Lords terrace. Buffet lunches and evening refreshments at lecture meetings allow members and their guests the opportunity of meeting the speaker to discuss topics with others with similar interests.
A Library and Reading Room is housed in the RSAA’s premises in 25 Eccleston Place. Our collection includes over 5000 books on Asian subjects, as well as large numbers of maps, photographs, slides and personal papers.
Asian Affairs is the Society’s journal. Published three times a year by Taylor and Francis, Asian Affairs contains reports of lectures, original articles and book reviews. Its world-wide circulation includes universities, institutes, companies, banks and government departments.
Education is at the heart of the Society’s aim to increase knowledge about Asia. We have a list of members prepared to give talks to appropriate groups, such as schools and the media, and host an annual day for sixth form students, an event held jointly with SOAS.
Tours are specially organised by the Society most years to enable members to make detailed visits to particular countries. Study groups are occasionally established on subjects of particular interest, and these attract acknowledged outside experts to work with members.
Awards: The RSAA awards two medals, namely the Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal and the Lawrence of Arabia Memorial Medal, to individuals who have distinguished themselves in their contribution to cultural relations, exploration, research or literature. The Society also awards its own Special Award, and administers the Sir Peter Holmes Memorial Award for purposeful travel by young people aged between 18 and 25.
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Churchill's First War: Young Winston & the Taliban A riveting and revelatory account of Winston Churchill's first campaign, in Afghanistan in the 1890's, offering shocking parallels into today's Afghan war