How to do research in South and Southeast Asian Studies

Library resources for researchers working on the study of cultures, histories, languages and literatures of South and Southeast Asia.


Topic-specific keywords will help improve your results in a general multidisciplinary database like Google, Google Scholar, HOLLIS, or Academic Search Premier

Add keywords like these to your search:

  • Language terms - Hindi, Malay, Sanskrit, Tagalog, Tamil, Urdu
  • Publication type terms - bibliography, gazetteers, manuscripts, statistics
  • Genre terms - criticism, interpretation, etc., “tales, Country” (e.g., “tales, Pakistan”), poetry, personal narratives
  • Geographic terms - Dhaka (Bangladesh), Deccan (India), Indian Ocean Region, Indochina, Indonesia
  • Subject terms - grammar, literary movements, philology, politics and government


The best tool for your project may be a specialized search engine, also known as a database. These databases are subject-specific or format-specific search tools:

Digital South Asia Library – A global collaborative effort to make important and rare South Asian resources available to the international community, this resource provides digital materials for reference and research on South Asia.

Bibliography of Asian Studies (via HarvardKey) – The most comprehensive Western-language resource for research in this field.

South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) – A collection of open access materials in English and a variety of South Asian languages for the study of South Asia. It comprises hundreds of thousands of pages of historical and contemporary content in the arts, sciences and humanities. Search tip: Enter a search term in the box at the top, but before pressing Enter, scroll further down the page to refine your search by content type, date, or subcollection theme.

Dig Deeper

The Library Research Guide for South Asian Studies provides basic resources for research in the study of cultures, histories, languages, and literatures of South Asia.

Databases for Asian Studies - South and Southeast - explore the full list of Harvard Library databases in this subject category.


Ramona Crawford, the library liaison to South Asian Studies, is available to support researchers via email or in-person consultation.

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Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

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