The Higher Education Cell (HEC) at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS), Bangalore, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), UK and the British Library (BL), London are funding a series of Digital Knowledge Exchange workshops in India. This is part of a series of strategic engagements among researchers and institutions in the UK and India, to investigate the research opportunities of BL’s South Asia collections being digitised and made accessible online.
Background: Collaborating Institutions
The British Library has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the HE Cell of India to develop a long-term strategy to digitise their immense South Asia collections and reunite them with complementary collections that are scattered in Indian archives and repositories.
Impact of digitization:
In light of the magnitude and salience of the BL’s collections, the transformative potential of digitization would be significant. Digitising the resources of the BL would allow for greater access to the BL’s materials, without the necessity of physical presence at the library. It would also respond to the needs and capacities of the present generation of digitally literate researchers that the Google age has engendered. Finally, digitisation would enable new research thematics to emerge, as a greater mass of material becomes accessible to more researchers who bring their own lenses of investigation to it. With this is view, the initiative is also exploring research collaborations across Indian and UK higher education institutions (HEIs), to develop new research areas.The British Library, British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum have signed a further collaboration agreement with the Ministry of Culture in India. The AHRC’s involvement in this chain of networks provides opportunities for medium and long-term engagement with researchers in India.
In the short-term, the HEC, as a grantee of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust (SRTT) and the AHRC will co-fund two knowledge exchange workshops. The workshops aim to facilitate networking between key Indian and UK research partners in order to:
● Bring together key participants from UK and Indian research institutions to explore new research challenges;
● Gain a greater understanding of the digital resources available and the challenges in both countries;
● Facilitate the development of new research collaborations between Indian and UK academics;
● Explore issues about the long term sustainability of the research collaborations including platforms, training, etc.
● Explore ways that Indian and UK collaborations can be encouraged and supported that is relevant to other projects and topics. In order to facilitate Digital Knowledge Exchange, the workshops will use the British Library’s South Asia collections and relevant collections in India as a basis; however it is envisaged that the outputs from these workshops will have wider relevance for Indian–British research collaborations. The first workshop took place in September 2010 in Bangalore and aimed to develop a framework for the BL’s India strategy.
South Asian Historical Records and Climate: An Interdisciplinary Workshop
Dates: March 4-5, 2011 The second workshop, on ‘Climate Change’ will take place in Bangalore on March 4-5, 2011. The workshop will be hosted and co-organised by the Centre for Contemporary Studies and the Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science (IISc). This workshop will investigate the relevance of archival meteorological records (e.g. rainfall data over the years) for contemporary scientific research on climate change. In this manner, the workshop (and the project) encourages an inter-disciplinary approach, integrating the natural and human sciences (i.e. history).
Climatic conditions in India were systematically recorded in the form of official meteorological observations in India from the nineteenth century, though records exist for the earlier period in the form of ships’ logs or the daily weather records kept by missionaries. The India Office Records contain information on instruments and methods of observation; observatory operations including meteorological observations, tidal observations, magnetic operations, astronomical observations (general observations, transits, eclipses and star studies); rainfall; ozone; extreme weather events (including hurricanes, storms, floods and cyclones). The aims of this workshop are to
- Bring together academics from a range of disciplines , and curators of collections, from South Asia and the UK
- Share knowledge of relevant sources in the British Library and in India, in both libraries and archives
- Recommend sources in India and the British Library for digitisation to support research collaborations
- Develop interdisciplinary research collaborations based on the sources identified in India and the BL, including those listed in Science and the changing environment in India 1780-1920: a guide to sources in the India Office Records
Potential discussion and research themes for the workshop:
- Nature and location of research resources in the British Library and India
- Scientific application of the data for the study of climate change and climate modelling to assist with predicting extreme weather events.
- Historic attitudes to climate and understanding of the interaction between the environment and climate, e.g. the link between deforestation and climate change, the impact on crop yields and famine
- Cultural responses to climate, for example, climate and literatu
- Climate and religion
- Climate and linguistics
- The history of meteorological record-keeping – land-based and maritime – would support understanding of the sources and planning for any digitisation projects.
- Climate and disease
- Climate, government and security
- Climate and Time
Call for participation:
Applications are sought from researchers based at Indian research organisations with an interest in any aspect of climate, the sciences and environment, history or culture and/or specialists in digital humanities who are interested in the transformative potential of digital resources more generally. We encourage applications that stimulate an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach. Applications are also welcomed from early career researchers. The details of the programme will be devised once the participants are known. We will ask all participants to prepare presentations for the workshop, but we will not be seeking formal research papers. Applicants are asked to submit a one page statement on their suitability to attend the workshop, accompanied by a short (2 page maximum) research proposal. Copies of applications should be sent online to by February 15, 2010. The email must be clearly identified by using the text: Workshop on Climate Change in the email subject field.
Selection of attendees will be announced in February, 2011.
The AHRC will be coordinating the participation of the UK-based researchers.