SOAS University of London

British Academy honour for SOAS scholar and School’s President

25 July 2017

SOAS University of London scholar Francesca Orsini, Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature, and SOAS President Graça Machel have been honoured with fellowships by the British Academy.

Professor Orsini has been elected Fellow of the British Academy for 2017/18 and SOAS President and humanitarian Graça Machel has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship.

The British Academy is the UK’s national body which champions and supports the humanities and social sciences, and elects up to 42 outstanding UK-based scholars each year. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement in the humanities and social sciences throughout the UK and internationally.

Professor Orsini’s research interests span modern and contemporary Hindi literature, book history, a multilingual approach to literary history. At present she is leading a project funded by the European Research Council on “Multilingual locals and significant geographies: for a new approach to world literature”, which proposes an alternative, located and multilingual, approach to world literature from the perspective of three regional sites: north India, the Maghreb, and the Horn of Africa.

Professor Orsini said: “I am delighted that the British Academy has recognised my work on South Asian literatures. I am interested how in literature works in multilingual societies like that of South Asia, with a very rich, deep, and varied culture and cultural history. While nation states think of multilingualism as a problem and literary histories are usually written around single languages, I am interested in how multilingualism has worked and continues to work creatively at the level of individuals, groups, and in society. I believe that there are lessons to be learnt that are valuable for the study of world literature at large and for other societies, too.”

Lord Stern, outgoing President of the British Academy, said: “Now more than ever, we need research, scholarship and evidence from the humanities and social sciences to inform our understanding and decision-making on the most pressing challenges of our time, from identity and democracy, to sustainable development and overcoming poverty, and managing climate change.”