South Asia Resources at Brown and RISD

Campus Resources

Brown-India Initiative

The Brown-India Initiative is an interdisciplinary hub for the study of contemporary India. The Initiative’s goals are twofold: to produce first-rate academic research, and to contribute to public discourse on, and in, India through talks, events, and the convergence of figures from across the lines of academia, civil society, literature, public policy and journalism.

Brown University Library

The South Asian Studies Library Guide provides an introduction into Brown's growing South Asia cllection. The South Asia Librarian, Ian Straughn, can offer guidance to both on-campus and off-campus materials.

Library special collections also include materials of South Asian origin:

The Minassian Collection features Persian, Mughal and Indian miniature paintings from the estate of Mrs. Adrienne Minassian. 

The Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection contains thousands of prints, drawings, and watercolors documenting military and naval history. It includes over 200 original drawings and artworks representing India.   

Brown University Center for AIDS Research 

The Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) is a joint research effort between Tufts and Brown Universities and their affiliated hospitals and centers. The CFAR has steadily increased its training and research programs in both South and Southeast Asia and in sub-Saharan African countries. Its most extensive collaborative research foci have been in Chennai and Vellore, India. 

Brown University Population Studies and Training Center

The Population Studies and Training Center (PSTC) at Brown University, formally established in 1965, is an internationally respected demography research and training center offering an outstanding interdisciplinary graduate training program. Strongly connected to three social science departments in particular — Anthropology, Economics and Sociology — with additional links to public health, political science, education and environmental studies, PSTC researchers focus on providing a better understanding of the social structures and systems underlying population structure and well-being.

John Carter Brown Library

The John Carter Brown Library is an independently administered center for advanced research in history and the humanities at Brown University. Its renowned collection of historical sources pertains primarily to the Americas before 1825, but it does include some material on the Indian subcontinent as well. South Asia related sources can be found in their extensive map collection, a selection of world travel narratives, and special exhibitions such as "Islamic Encounters" or "Portugal and Renaissance Europe."

Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology 

The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology holds an impressive collection of archeological, ethnographic, textual and photographic items. Of these, there are 332 objects from India, comprised mostly of religious items, some musical instruments, textiles, and household objects, such as pottery. The Museum also holds 91 items from Nepal, 43 items from Bhutan, 13 items from Sikkim and 5 items from Pakistan. Additionally, the Museum possesses an impressive collection of over 200 photographs of Nepal by Professor Phillip Lieberman.

A limited number of pieces from the collection are on display at any given time in the gallery on campus at Manning Hall, and the Collections Research Center is located in Bristol, RI. The Museum also offers research opportunities for students in various disciplinary backgrounds in their CultureLab.  The object catalog is available on the CultureLab computer, and students may browse the database for class papers, projects, honors theses, or student exhibitions.  In some cases, requested objects may be brought to CultureLab for further exploration.

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

RISD Museum Asian Art Collection

The Asian Collection of the RISD Museum spans a period of 5,000 years and includes a small but rich holding of South Asian and Islamic art pieces. 

A variety of mediums are represented in the collection, which has a particularly strong core group of Mughal objects. One such notable piece is the right half of a double page illustration to the Baburnama, or the Memoirs of Babur (ca. 1590). Written in Chagatai Turki, the language of Babur’s native Turkestan, the memoir recounts his campaigns, battles, and celebrations of victories as he crossed from Central Asia to India. The RISD piece depicts ‘Workmen in a Garden’ in opaque watercolors and reflects Babur’s well-known love of gardening.

RISD Museum Costume and Textiles Collection

The Costume and Textile Collection of the RISD Museum possesses approximately four hundred pieces from South Asia. Many of these are from the regions of Rajasthan, Sind, and Kutch, though some hail from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region or as far as Tibet. Many of the pieces in the Asian collection (which as a whole includes over 3,000 costume and textile objects) were collected and then donated by Miss Lucy Truman Aldrich, who traveled throughout Asia during the 1920s collecting interesting and unique pieces.

The collection is open Fridays during the fall and spring semesters from 11am - 1pm to students, faculty and researchers for guided research and orientation to the department's holdings. For specific item requests and curatorial guidance, please consult the curatorial staff prior to visiting during open hours.

Online Resources 

Digital South Asia Library

Digital materials for reference and research on South Asia available to scholars, public officials, and other users. Several languages dictionaries, reference books, and journals have already been digitized and are available free on the web to everyone. 

Digital Islamic Library Project

A large collection of online Islamic resources covering a large variety of subjects in various media formats such as audio, video, presentations, image gallery, short length and full length texts.

SARAI (South Asia Resource Access on the Internet)

Provides wide-ranging information on South Asian countries, international organizations, NGOs, scholarly societies, and more. Also provides useful links to other South-Asia related online collections. 

South Asia Diaspora

This is considered one of the best resources for research on the South Asian Diaspora.

South Asia Literary Recording Project

 Launched in April 2000, this project aims to record the voices of South Asian authors for the Library of Congress' Archive of Recorded World Literature. The South Asian authors, poets, novelists, and playwrights recorded so far represent more than fifteen of the languages of India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.


Vidyanidhi is India's premier digital library initiative to facilitate the creation, archiving and accessing of doctoral theses. Vidyanidhi is an information infrastructure, a digital library, a portal of resources, tools and facilities for doctoral research in India.