X University of London
The Michael Palin Scholar and Dr Alan
Entwistle Digitisation Project
"Accessibility is key to the dissemination of learning. Through
enabling digitisation of an important collection of images
and film at SOAS, you are ensuring that future generations of
scholars and enthusiasts across the world will be able to
benefit from this unique resource"
Baroness Valerie Amos, SOAS Director
Front cover image: "Vegetable Market" from the Alan Entwistle Collection
I am pleased to present the first progress report on the Michael
Palin Scholarship recipientJoe Pearson Woodand the Alan
Entwistle Digitisation Project, generously funded by you.
Having now been back at SOAS for more than half a year, Joe is
fully immersed in his two-year Master's course in Intensive South
Asian Studies. It is clear from his statement that without the support
that the Michael Palin Scholarship has offered him, he would have
had great difficulty returning to SOAS to further his studies. We are
very pleased with his progress thus far and look forward to keeping
up with his development over the coming months.
The Alan Entwistle Digitisation project is now complete with the
materials published online for all to access and enjoy. Enclosed in
this reportand featuring on the front coverare some of the
images that have been digitized thanks to your donation.
I hope you enjoy reading about Joe's experiences so far as a
postgraduate student at SOAS, and the progress of the Alan
Entwistle Digitisation Project.
Thank you again for your support.
Professor Edward Simpson
Director, SOAS South Asia Institute
Joseph Pearson Wood
Michael Palin Scholar 2016-17 MA Intensive South Asian Studies
The choice of university that I would apply to
for my undergraduate degree was always
I've known about SOAS since early 2009 after
visiting to attend a public lecture with my
brother on the colonial impact of land policy in
Being fifteen years old at the time and just
about to start my GCSEs, most of the lecture
was completely alien to me and to say I was
confused would be a huge understatement! I
was however, intrigued nonetheless.
It was this intrigue, both for the university itself
and also for India as an academic subject that
sustained me through both my GCSEs and A-
Having grown up in Solihull, just outside of
Birmingham, I was surrounded by many
different diaspora communities, and my interest
in South Asianotably Pakistanstems from
hearing the many different languages and
observing many different cultures from a young
Applying to SOAS therefore seemed like a no-
After completing my undergraduate degree in
Law and Politics in 2016, I had a hunger to
study more at SOAS. The thought of applying
anywhere else seemed alien, especially given
SOAS's renowned reputation for South Asian
studies and the small community feel to it.
During my undergraduate studies, my interest in
South Asia became more focused, primarily on
the legal institutionalisation of identity in
Pakistan. The MA programme in South Asian
Studies seemed ideal for nurturing this interest.
I was, however, aware of the financial cost and
pressure of undertaking an MA in the UK. It
therefore seemed like fate that an incredibly
generous scholarship became available for the
specific degree programme I wished to apply
After applying for the scholarship I became
increasingly aware that without financial
sponsorship, I would not be able to undertake
an MA for a long time. I started applying for
graduate schemes and various jobs in case I
was unsuccessful in the scholarship application.
Thankfully this was not the case, and as a result
I have had the opportunity to further my studies
and contribute to the wonderful SOAS
community without financial worry. I am
incredibly grateful and blessed as this is a rare
opportunity, and I am now making the most of
My experience of SOAS, having been here for
nearly four years now, has been multifaceted. I
am engaging with academic material in ways
that I never knew possible; for instance, I am
currently researching the poetry of the Taliban
and how their poetry illuminates another
dimension than portrayed by Western
conceptions of the movement.
I have also developed an interest in postcolonial
theory, something that would have been
"As a result [of the Michael Palin Scholarship], I have had
the opportunity to further my studies and contribute to
the wonderful SOAS community without financial
difficult to study had it not been for the
Academically speaking, SOAS is a challenging
environment but needless to say extremely
enjoyable. I have especially enjoyed the cultural
studies aspect of the course and have found
new interests in South Asian poetry, which my
Urdu study helps profoundly with.
As a result of my scholarship, I am also taking
extracurricular Persian/Farsi classes and have
set up a critical Pakistan reading/study group
with various PhD and Master's students. We
hope to hold events and potentially to produce
academic material. As a further result of my
scholarship, I have been able to become
involved with the SOAS refugee support society,
and have also been gradually becoming more
involved with local political campaigning.
I believe my studies are progressing well. I have
achieved distinction marks in all assessments to
date, again something I truly believe would not
have been possible without the support of this
incredibly generous scholarship.
I am really enjoying being able to engage with a
wide variety of material and unique sources that
SOAS has in abundance. For example, being
able to read material from pre-1947 rural Sindh
is a surreal and wonderful experience.
In addition, I am also studying the many
different legal aspects of Pakistan, notably the
rights of minorities and women, but also how
Pakistan has one of the most activist judiciaries
in the world.
This is of critical importance to me as it
nuances the current political debates
concerning Pakistan. In addition, given the
country's global strategic importance, an
interdisciplinary approach towards the country
is necessary as I believegiven the current
political climatethese debates will grow in
ferocity. A progressive critical approach is
essential in mitigating the forces of prejudice
In terms of future plans, I will be moving to
Lahore next August to further my language
proficiency and to conduct research
throughout the country for my extended
dissertation, due in September 2018.
My research will tentatively be focused on the
nexus between law and culture, paying
particular notice to constitutional arrangements
and solutions to various ethnic and cultural
After I graduate, I have numerous ambitions:
either to undertake a PhD, go into a career of
investigative journalism, or even enter the Civil
Service via the diplomatic stream, possibly one
day becoming an ambassador!
While my ambitions are varied and currently
lacking in clear focus, they would have had very
little chance of materialising had it not been for
this scholarship and the wonderful opportunity
associated with it.
A note from Joe
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The Alan Entwistle
Images above, top to bottom: View of the temples on the hilltop of Barsana; Ferryboat on the Yamuna
Bringing the Entwistie
Collection to life
The From the Land of Braj, Centre of Krishna
pilgrimage is a collection of photographs created
as a part of a SOAS-led project with
the International Association of the Vrindaban
Research Institute (IAVRI) between January 1976
and March 1978.
In the early 16th century the groves of Vrindaban
on the banks of the Yamuna River are said to have
been identified by the Bengali saint Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu as the place where Krishna dallied
and frolicked with the gopis, the local cowherd
girls, especially his favourite, Radha.
Vrindaban has been a pilgrimage town dedicated
to the worship of Krishna ever since, and the
surrounding area, known as Braj, contains many
sites associated with his life. During the 16th-17th
centuries Braj provided the location for a great
renaissance of devotional Hinduism. This
produced a huge body of religious literature, much
of it composed in the local dialect of Hindi, Braj
The nearby town of Hathras was the birthplace of
Ram Das Gupta, who was Lecturer in Hindi at
SOAS from 1962 to 1996. Ram Das Gupta
established the Vrindaban Research Institute [VRI)
in the upper floors of a pilgrim hostel owned by his
family in 1968. The VRI was dedicated to the task
of collecting, cataloguing and conserving some of
the manuscripts that were mouldering away in
their thousands in temple storerooms all across
the town. Dr Gupta recruited a small team of local
scholars and enabled a number of young people
to acquire the skills of manuscript
conservation. During the 1970s and 1980s the VRI
project, now supported by the International
Association of the Vrindaban Research Institute,
drew in other SOAS specialists in Hindi, Urdu,
Bengali, Sanskrit and Persian. Several SOAS
students completed Ph.D theses on Vaishnava
Hindu literature that drew on materials at the VRI.
The late Alan W. Entwistie (1949-1996) was one
The majority of these photographs of Braj were
taken by Alan Entwistie as he led an IAVRI effort to
survey the region. Others were taken by the SOAS
PhD student David Crawford, Gerry Losty of the
British Library, and Paul Fox, the SOAS
photographer. The digitisation programme uses
these images and the descriptions Entwistie wrote
of each image, updated with searchable Hindi and
geographic data. Entwistie went on to build a
career as a scholar and teacher of Hindi language
and literature and Indian civilisation at the
universities of Groningen and Washington
(Seattle). His principal publication is Braj: Land of
Krishna Pilgrimage (Groningen: Egbert Foster,
Entwistle's collection sits alongside an expanding
digital archive at SOAS. These efforts are part of a
broader initiative to make the research collections
of previous generations readily available to a global
audience, and, crucially, available to people in the
regions where the original research was
Thank you again for your help in making this goal a
Professor Michael Huttan overview
All of the slides in the collection have now been
digitised and a PhD student (Adrian Plau) working
in a closely related field has completed catalogue
descriptions (in both English and Hindi) and
background material for the slides.
We have also located a large collection of
photographic prints and two 8 millimetre films
dating from the 1970s from the same project,
which we are processing in the same way.
Adrian visited the site in questionVrindaban
earlier in the year, armed with a set of images for
which we lacked captions or descriptions, and
consulted scholars there.
Update from Erich Kesse, Digital Library
The full Entwistle collection narrative now resides
online and can be accessed by visiting this web
Items can be searched by topic, geographic area,
type, or key word, or browsed on the interactive
map that has been developed.
This map interface has been developed so each
item can be contextualised and placed
geographically in the area. Each digitised item has
a unique geographic reference.
Any user accessing the collection can use the
'MAP IT!' feature and dynamic map to see where
items relate to one another and fit within the
As a direct result of this project, users could
therefore use the digital images and interactive
map to put their own tour together, guided by the
images and information online.
Students, academics and amateur enthusiasts can
tailor their use of the digitized collection to
support their individual needs.
Brill Publishers, who hold the rights to Alan
Entwistle's monograph, have agreed to place the
monograph in the public domain. This means that
in due course. Dr Entwistle's text and maps will
also be brought to life in the same way.
Finally, a key feature of this collection is language.
Every photo's description records key data in
English and Hindiand some also support Tamil,
Telagu and Urdu.
It was vitally important to us that the collection be
easily searchable and usable by English and non-
English speakers alike. To this end, a fully
functional Hindi interface is planned for later in the
year, funded separately by the SOAS Library.
Some examples of digitised images appear on the
opposite page. Thanks to your donation, over two
thousand individual images have been made
available to freely and easily access online. Thank
you again for your support.
Three digitised images
from The Dr Alan
Top: MukutavalT dukan in
LoT Bazaar : a shop seliing
headdresses for deities
Middle: Rath ka Mela : the