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Subject guide

South and Southeast Asian Studies

Overview of databases, reference works and websites for South and Southeast Asian Studies.

Southeast Asia
Particular focus on the languages and cultures of Indonesia and Malaysia. Additionally, the most relevant publications in Western languages on the history, languages, and cultures of Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Brunei, and the Philippines.
South and Central Asia
Languages and Literatures of ancient South Asia (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Tibet); Archaeology and History of ancient South Asia; Languages and Literatures of Modern India (Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Nepali); Modern History of South- and Central Asia, Material Arts of South- and Central Asia; Buddhism and Hinduism, Tibetan and Sanskrit.

The major part of the collection is kept in the Asian Library, a smaller part is held in the Social Sciences library. In the University Library, most books are kept in the closed stacks. Items can be searched and requested through the Catalogue.

In the Asian Library you'll find a free accessible collection of reference books, such as:

  • Dictionaries of national and regional languages and dialects
  • Encyclopaedias
  • Bibliographies 
  • Grammar books
  • Text books and language courses
  • Maps and atlases

These books are for use in the reading room only.  Making photocopies or scans is allowed. The reference collection is organized by the Library of Congress Classification (LCC).  

Manuscripts, photographs, letters, as well as rare and precious books and prints, can be consulted in the Special Collection Reading Room. Please use the Catalogue to find the exact location of any particular title.

A number of Indonesian newspapers and magazines are available in digital (pdf) format. The majority is being updated regularly.

Only within Leiden University network!
Due to copyright issues access to the newspapers and magazines is limited to the Leiden University network, on the present student- and staff workstations. It's not possible to view the newspapers and magazines from your own device. To access the folders please double-click the link in question.

Available newspapers:

Available magazines:


South- and Southeast Asian Art and Archaeology Index (ABIA)  is a global network of scholars co-operating on an annotated bibliographic database for publishers covering South and Southeast Asian art and archaeology. The project was launched in 1997 at the initiative of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden, the Netherlands, in collaboration with international scholars and Asian academic institutes. The project receives scientific support from UNESCO.

The Internet Archive was founded in 1996 and offers access to digital historical collections. Since 1999, the Internet Archive not only includes texts, but audiovisual materials, software and archived web pages as well. This site provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other visually impaired.

Southeast Asia

SEAsite is maintained by the Southeast Asia Studies Program also located at Northern Illinois University. The site contains a wealth of useful information on many of the languages of Southeast Asia and a limited but fine selection of images.

Southeast Asia Digital Library Northern Illinois University provides access to a variety of audiovisual material, indexes, manuscripts and e-books. The resources are organized by country and supplemented by a link to "Selected internet sites" focusing on websites of government and research institutes and organizations of each specific country. In addition it provides access to Open Access periodicals, broadcasting services in the vernaculars and specific non-Northern Illinois University digital collections in the field.


CrossAsia-repository is an electronic platform for publishing and archiving academic literature in the field of South Asian studies. The publication platform offers free access to fulltext documents. It contains monographs, articles, conference papers and multimedia materials.

Indology: resources for indological scholarship is a gateway and virtual text archive for tools and primary resources for the study of Sanskrit and other classical languages of the Indian subcontinent. It provides a list of external websites, online South Asian bibliographies, a virtual e-text  archive of Indic texts, and Indological software, a tool to search and retrieve Indic Texts (Sanskrit, Pali, Pakrit). Furthermore it contains an archive of Indological texts, among others the Bhagavad Gita, Rig Veda, en de Pali Canon (downloadable as zip-files ). In addition, there are links to a small selection of off-site Tamil and Tibetan texts. 

Srilankaresearch.org [[Let op: Link doet het niet meer, wil je deze houden?]] is a website that aims to provide access to scholarly articles and information about Sri Lanka. The website includes a searchable index to journal articles published in Sri Lanka from 1845 - to date. The database contains more than 10,000 citations fom scholarly journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Agriculture and the Sciences with links to the full-text when available. This database was supported by a research grant from the Librarians' Assosiation of the University of California.


THL Tibetan to English Translation Tool is a Tibetan - English online dictionary. Both Tibetan and Latin script can be used.

The webportal Tibetan Studies  [[Let op: laatst geupdate in 2010. Wil je deze houden?]] gives access to relevant news about and from the region. The site provides links to Open Access e-journals, newsletters and blogs with a special focus on Tibet. The Virtual Library is linked to the Australian National University in Canberra. 

Important digital resources on Indonesia, produced by KITLV. 

Overview of all resources

  • Aceh Books
    In the wake of the devastating tsunami that struck Aceh on 26 December 2004,  a project was initiated to digitize a major part of the literature on Aceh that is kept in the library. 

  • Archive Inventories
    This collection holds very detailed inventories of archival materials pertaining to Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. There are almost 500 meters of archives waiting for you.

  • Digital Media Library   
    A collection of more than 150,000 photos, prints, drawings, maps and songs particularly from Indonesia, the Dutch Indies, Suriname and the Caribbean. Additionally there are images of migrants from these areas who resided temporarily or resettled in the Netherlands

  • Oral History Archive (in Dutch)

  • The oral history archives constitute a unique collection in the shared history of Indonesia and the Netherlands.  Covering the 1930s through the 1960s, they detail daily life and personal experiences during the colonial era, WWII, the Indonesian struggle for independence and the early post-colonial period.

  • VOC-Kenniscentrum (in Dutch) 

  • Javanese in Diaspora

  • Chinese Indonesian Heritage Center

The KITLV thesaurus indexes keywords which are a powerful instrument for searching the KITLV collections. The thesaurus was updated untill July 2014.

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