Richard Blurton trained as an archaeologist and subsequently worked in North Africa (Carthage), southern Afghanistan (Kandahar) and in southern India (Vijayanagara) where he worked with Dr George Michell. He joined the Department of Asia in the British Museum in 1986, retiring in September 2018 as Head of the South and Southeast Asia Section.
He worked on all aspects of the very extensive holdings of the BM from South and Southeast Asia, mounting a wide range of exhibitions, mostly in the Museum but also in Delhi and Bombay (1997-98). His research projects have carried him throughout the subcontinent (his first visit was fifty-two years ago), most recently in Assam, and before that in Arunachal Pradesh. Both projects resulted in exhibitions at the BM and publications, in books and in journal articles; his research in both areas continues.
He has published extensively, including books on Assam (2016), Bengal (2006), Burma (2000), and Hindu Art (1992), and editing volumes, including on village India, and on the archaeology and art history of Burma.
In the Museum he has been associated especially with ensuring that the collections are brought up to date - acquisitions have ranged from paintings by Rabindranath Tagore, prints by Krishna Reddy, modern textiles worked in ancient techniques, photographs by Lionel Wendt and a large-scale sculpture by Mrinalini Mukherjee, amongst much else.
In retirement he continues to write, publish and carry out research, in this country and in India; his latest book, ‘India. A History through Objects’ will appear in June 2022. In both the UK and in India he continues to lecture, most recently in a four-part series on Amaravati including its survival in modern Buddhist traditions.
He is a trustee of the Ancient India and Iran Trust in Cambridge, a committee member of the Indian Art Circle, a trustee of Akademi: South Asian Dance, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
Marci Shore is an associate professor of history at Yale University and a regular visiting fellow at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna. She is the translator of Michał Głowiński's The Black Seasons and the author of Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation's Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968, The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe, and The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution. Her essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Eurozine, Foreign Policy and The Atlantic. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for her current project titled “Phenomenological Encounters: Scenes from Central Europe.”
Arshia Sattar studied with Wendy Doniger in the 1980s at the University of Chicago from where she obtained her PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations. Since then, Arshia has continued to work with the Hindu epics and the story traditions of the subcontinent. She has published such translations from Sanskrit as Tales from the Kathasaritsagara and an abridged Valmiki Ramayana as well as three books of essays on the Ramayana, the most recent of which is Maryada: The Search for Dharma in the Valmiki Ramayana. She has also retold the Ramayana and the Mahabharata for younger readers and has recently published Favourite Stories from Hindu Myths
Rachel Dwyer is Professor Emerita of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS University of London. Her most recent books are Bombay before Mumbai: Essays in Honour of Jim Masselos (co-edited with Prashant Kidambi and Manjiri Kamat, 2019)and Cinema and Soft Power: Configuring the National and Transnational in Geo-politics (co-edited with Stephanie Dennison, 2021). She writes a monthly column on Indian culture in ‘Open’.
JAIRAM RAMESH, a Rajya Sabha MP, was Union minister between 2006 and 2014, holding several key portfolios including environment and forests. He is the author of several well-known books including Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature and Intertwined Lives: P. N. Haksar and Indira Gandhi. His last book, A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V.K. Krishna Menon won the Kamaladevi NIF Book Prize in 2020.
Wendy Doniger is the author of several acclaimed and bestselling works, among them, The Hindus: An Alternative History; Hindu Myths; The Ring of Truth; Dreams, Illusion and Other Realities; On Hinduism; Women, Androgynes and Other Mythical Beasts; Winged Stallions and Wicked Mares. She is Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago, and has also taught at the SOAS, University of London, and UC Berkeley. Her latest book is An American Girl in India: Letters and Recollections 1963-64, about the year she spent in India in 1963 when she was 22. In letters to her parents back home, Doniger describes her time in Tagore’s Shantiniketan where she studied Sanskrit and Bengali, and an India that is still finding its feet, and learning to come to terms with the violence of Partition.
Mihir Bose is an award-winning journalist and author of 38 books. He writes and broadcasts on social and historical issues as well as sport for a range of outlets including the BBC, the Financial Times, Evening Standard, the Independent, the Guardian and the Irish Times. His most recent book is Dreaming the Impossible: the Battle to Create a Non-Racial Sports World. His books range from sport to those on India, histories and biographies including one on Narendra Modi. His History of Indian Cricket was the first book on Indian cricket to win the prestigious English Cricket Society Literary Award. He has written the only narrative history of Bollywood. Two of his books, Silver, The Spy Who Fooled the Nazis and Twinkle Toes are being made into films.
Mihir was the BBC’s first Sports Editor, the first non-white to be a BBC editor. He moved to the BBC after 12 years at the Daily Telegraph where he was the chief sports news correspondent and launched the Inside Sports column. Before that he worked for the Sunday Times for 20 years. He has contributed to nearly all the major UK newspapers and presented programmes for radio and television.
Bose has an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University for his outstanding contribution to journalism and the promotion of equality.
Mihir is a member of the English Heritage’s Blue Plaques Panel. He is a former chairman of the Reform Club. He lives in London with his wife Caroline.
Now published in 97 countries and more than 33 languages, Jeffrey Archer is firmly established as one of the world’s bestselling authors, with international sales passing 275 million copies. He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (nineteen times), short stories (four times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries).
Zareer Masani is the author of Macaulay: Britain’s Liberal Imperialist (The Bodley Head, 2013). He has an Oxford history doctorate and is the author of three other historical books: Indira Gandhi: A Biography, Indian Tales of the Raj and India from Raj to Rajiv (with Mark Tully). He has also written a widely acclaimed family memoir, And All Is Said: Memoir of a Home Divided (Penguin, 2013).
Zareer spent two decades as a producer for BBC Radio 4 and is now a freelance historian, journalist and broadcaster. His particular areas of interest include the British Raj in India. He is currently researching a biography of Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General.
Mick Brown is a journalist who has written for several British newspapers, including The Guardian and The Sunday Times and for international publications. For many years he has contributed regularly to The Daily Telegraph. He is also a broadcaster and the author of several books.Brown has written many articles and a book about rock music,Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, and a biography of entrepreneur Richard Branson. His book, The Dance of 17 Lives told the story of the 17th Karmapa, one of the most important figures in Tibetan Buddhism.
The Spiritual Tourist, cataloged contemporary spiritual quests around the globe, particularly in India. Brown also compiled a companion album to the book, Music for the Spiritual Tourist.
Recently he tracked down a famous Indian fugitive in London, Nirav Modi.
Raza Mir grew up in Hyderabad, India, and teaches management at William Paterson University, USA. He is the author of The Taste of Words: An Introduction to Urdu Poetry and the co-author of Anthems of Resistance: A Celebration of Progressive Urdu Poetry to go with biographies of Mirza Ghalib and Allama Iqbal, and a novel titled Murder ar the Mushaira, set in 19th Century Delhi.
Anjum Altaf is a South Asian living in Lahore. He has a PhD from Stanford University and was a professor of Economics and dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. In addition to Thinking with Ghalib, he is the author of Transgressions and More Transgressions, both volumes of poems inspired by Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
Amit Basole heads the Centre for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University and works on “jobless growth” in India. He is also the Associate Professor of Economics, School of Arts and Sciences, at the University.
Amit has taught at Bucknell University and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He has a PhD in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst as well as a PhD in Neuroscience from Duke University. Prior to that he attended the University of Mumbai for a Bachelors in Microbiology and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai for a Masters in Molecular Biology.
His earlier research projects include causes of declining calorie consumption in India, impacts of subcontracting on informal firms, knowledge sharing in informal industrial clusters, conditions of work for home-based women workers, the economics of Geographical Indications, and skill acquisition in the informal economy.
He has a particular interest in people’s’ knowledge traditions and their significance in creating alternatives to the paradigm of “Development.”
Rajat Khosla is Senior Director, Research, Advocacy and Policy at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London. He previously worked for the World Health Organisation in Geneva, as Human Rights Adviser since 2013 and led on research and normative work on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular on women’s rights and issues related to sexual and reproductive health, guided countries and WHO regional offices on policy and legal analysis, and represented the organisation in high-level negotiations and processes related to human rights. He also led WHO’s policy work on the integration of women’s rights in humanitarian emergencies. In 2018/19 he was seconded to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He holds a LLM in International Human Rights Law (University of Essex), a LLB (Faculty of Law, Delhi University), Bachelor’s degree in commerce and economics (Delhi University), and was admitted to the Bar in 2002. Previously, he worked in a variety of research and policy roles in organisations such as the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and the International Environmental Law Research Centre. He worked as independent research and policy consultant on advocacy and human rights for UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA.
Fakir Aijazuddin is one of Pakistan’s leading scholars and art-historians whose specialty has been the history of the Punjab. He belongs to the famous Fakir family of Lahore which achieved considerable prominence during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Aijazuddin has published a number of books on this period of Punjab history. The first was Pahari Paintings and Sikh Portraits in the Lahore Museum (1977), a catalogue of the miniature paintings collection in the Lahore Museum. The counterpart to it is in the Government Museum & Art Gallery, Chandigarh. His second book Sikh Portraits by European Artists (1979) was a biographical study of the paintings in the Princes s Bamba Collection, Lahore Fort. The collection had once belonged to Maharaja Duleep Singh. Amongst his other books are two books on Lahore, one on rare maps of Pakistan, an account of Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China in 1971, another on US-Pakistan diplomatic relations between 1969 and 1974, two books on his alma mater Aitchsion College, Lahore, to commemorate its centenary (1986) and its 125th anniversary (2011). He is a regular columnist for Pakistan’s leading daily DAWN.
VIKTORAS BACHMETJEVAS is a philosopher with an interest in ethics, especially the intersection of ethics and the philosophy of religion.
Viktoras received his M.Phil. in Philosophy from KU Leuven in Belgium before completing his Ph.D. on irony and ethics in Søren Kierkegaard’s thought in his native Lithuania. He has taught philosophy for ten years at various Lithuanian universities. In 2018, he became the founding director of the Emmanuel Levinas Center in Kaunas, Lithuania, devoted to the thought and legacy of the French philosopher. Viktoras has published on both Kierkegaard and Levinas, including a translation of Levinas’ Le temps et l’autre into Lithuanian. Currently, Viktoras’ research is focused on the philosophical problem of the concept of forgiveness. Outside academia, he has had a career in public communications and served as an advisor to the Lithuanian Minister of Culture.