The BnF is happy to present this first prototype of a digital library on the history of representations and relations between France and South Asia, particularly India. Still undergoing modifications and expansions, it will be the seventh site in the Shared Heritage collection when it opens.
Since 2015, the National Library of France - BnF is engaged in a shared digitisation programme together with heritage institutions in France and abroad. Based on the idea of promoting digitally content as a way to give access to a shared heritage, these projects promote the creation of digital libraries. By giving access to documents dispersed between different countries and partner institutions, it is thus possible to reconstruct a common heritage or to retrace several centuries of scientific, cultural or diplomatic exchanges.
This policy is at the core of the Shared Heritage collection
. The ambition of the collection is to favour national and international partnerships between libraries, cultural institutions, and research communities to promote digital mediation for universally relevant heritage while ensuring long-term preservation.
By 2023, the "France – South Asia" digital library will bring together digital documentary corpora which bear witness to the relations between France and South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka…), but also to the way in which each country was perceived, understood and represented by the other in the course of centuries of interaction: official documents, scholarly works, evidence of daily life, customs, sciences and culture…
The documents on show will be varied in nature and not restricted in terms of languages. Printed books and manuscripts, but also maps, prints, engravings, photograph. They will come from the collections of the BnF and from the documentary institutions partners of the project.
These sources will be presented in a hierarchical manner. The following main themes have been defined: Voyages, Territories, Circulation of knowledge, Sciences and technologies, Languages and literature, Thoughts, and Arts. They will be themselves subdivided into sub-themes, which can present remarkable documents or sets of documents.
These sections are enhanced and contextualized through articles
written by distinguished scientists, curators of the BnF, academics and researcher
French and Indian institutions have agreed to participate in the project:
- the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts (IGNCA),
- the French Institute of Pondicherry, the French School of the Far East (EFEO),
- the University Library of Languages and Civilizations (BULAC),
- the Institute of Indian Studies (Collège de France)
- the National Museum of Asian Arts - Guimet (MNAAG)
The team and the scientific advisory board
The selection of documents as well as the production of content are lead by the expertise of scientific advisory board
. Co-chaired by Laurence Engel, president of the BnF, and Kapil Raj, director of studies at EHESS and emeritus and honorary member of the Alexandre-Koyré Center, it brings together one representative for each partner institutions and renowned researchers.
The documentary selection is carried out by a high-level scientific team
bringing together curators from both the BnF and partner institutions. It is validated by the Scientific Advisory Board. The volume of documents is meant to expand over the years and through the contributions of partners and be displayed on the site thanks to an evolving and collaborative tool.