Skip to Main Content

South Asian Studies

Digital Humanities for SAS

Digital Humanities for South Asian Studies is expanding at a rapid pace. Below is an ever-growing list of DH projects that focus on South Asia. Also, be sure to check out the following:

What do we mean when we say "digital humanities"? See Prof. Chris Forster's clear articulation of the four areas of DH in a 2010 HASTAC blog post.

Click here for a list of major DH journals.


  • Bhakti Virtual Archive (BHAVA)
    • The Bhakti Virtual Archive (BHAVA) will be a freely accessible online platform for exploring scholarship on diverse regional devotional (bhakti) traditions in South Asia. The ultimate goal of the BHAVA project is to have an expertly curated database of research on South Asian devotional traditions that accelerates research and enhances teaching about South Asian history, literature, philosophy, language, and culture.
    • A project developed by Prof. Jon Keune of Michigan State University and by Gil Ben-Herut of the University of South Florida. 
  • Cinemaazi
    • Digital repository and open encyclopedic resource on regional vintage cinema from India.
  • Memories of Delhi Archive
    • Repository of the Centre for Community Knowledge, Ambedkar University.
  • Mukurtu
    • Mukurtu (MOOK-oo-too) is a grassroots project aiming to empower communities to manage, share, and exchange their digital heritage in culturally relevant and ethically-minded ways.
  • The 1947 Partition Archive
    • Based in Berkeley, the archive is a "people-powered non-profit organization dedicated to documenting, preserving and sharing eye witness accounts from all ethnic, religious and economic communities affected by the Partition of British India in 1947."
    • See a sampling of interviews hosted by Stanford Libraries.
    • Watch Guneeta Singh Bhalla talk about the project here.
  • Prosopographical Database for Indic Texts (PANDiT)
    • A database created by Prof. Yigal Bronner of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in collaboration with others for the vast world of South Asian letters. Users create an account and populate the database with works, people, places, and sources. Contributors are cited for their work. Watch Prof. Bronner talk about the project here

Data Visualization/Mapping/GIS

  • Bollywood and Beyond: Analyzing the Film Industry through Irfan's Guftagoo Interviews
    • Led by Penn faculty Dr. Sudev Sheth and Penn undergraduate Nitin Rao, this site offers researchers access to new primary source data and some preliminary analysis related to the popular television series Guftagoo hosted by S. M. Irfan and published by Rajya Sabha Television.
  • Chapakhana
    • Maps the spread of print in South Asia. A project developed by Prof. Ulrike Stark of the University of Chicago.
  • Delivering post by foot in medieval north India
    • A map of a 9th century postal route across medieval north India. A project developed by Manan Ahmed, Jeremiah Trinidad-Christensen, and Emily Fuhrman.
  • India Place Finder
    • A tool for locating geographic information on Indian toponyms.
  • Watch Tim Bellefleur and Charles Li, graduate students who work with Prof. Adheesh Sathaye of the University of British Columbia, discuss visualization techniques for Sanskrit manuscripts here

Digital Pedagogy

  • Prof. Christopher Handy of Leiden University has developed a curriculum for teaching graduate students digital techniques for analyzing languages. See the course description for "Constructing Digital Language Toolkits." You can also find Chris on Github.
  • Prof. A. Sean Pue of Michigan State University has served as the Director of the Digital Humanities program there and has been using computational methods in his own scholarship on South Asia for more than a decade (Check out his collaboratively developed Urdu BioMeter: An Urdu-Hindi Metrical Scanner Inspired by Bioinformatics). Read more about MSU's DH certificate program here.
  • Prof. Mark McLaughlin of William and Mary uses Google Street View and Google Cardboard to bring virtual reality to the classroom. Watch him talk about these techniques for teaching about Hindu temples here.
  • Prof. Constance Kassor of Lawrence University uses Wordpress blogs, Story Maps, and TimelineJS to teach about Buddhism and Hinduism. Watch her discuss these techniques here


  • B is for Bapu: Gandhi in the Art of the Child in Modern India
    • A project by Prof. Sumathi Ramaswamy of Duke University. "B is for Bapu" pays tribute to the art produced by child artists of Mumbai on Mahatma Gandhi—or Bapu—the father of the nation. It draws on their colorful paintings to show the importance of the child in the making of the Mahatma.
  • Going Global in Mughal India
    • A digital muraqqa' by Prof. Sumathi Ramaswamy of Duke University.
  • The Long Emergency: Media and Democracy in India
    • An Omeka-based digital collection of oral history interviews, films, cartoons, news clippings, government documents, and court judgments related to the time of the Indian Emergency (1975-1977) by Prof. Srirupa Roy of the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS) at the University of Gottingen.
  • Online Gods
    • A podcast about digital cultures in India and beyond.
    • - short for Public Access Digital Media Archive - is an online archive of densely annotated video material, primarily footage and not finished films. The entire collection is searchable and viewable online, and is free to download for non-commercial use. 
  • Pioneering Punjabis Digital Archive
    • Documents the history of the South Asian pioneers in California, 1899-present.
  • The Pluralism Project
    • The Pluralism Project is a two decade-long research project that engages students in studying the new religious diversity in the United States. The project explores particularly the communities and religious traditions of Asia and the Middle East that have become woven into the religious fabric of the United States in teh past twenty-five years.
  • Sounding Islam: voice, media, and sonic atmospheres in an Indian Ocean world
    • Open-access monograph by Patrick Eisenlohr. Eisenlohr uses computational methods to analyze devotional Islam in Mauritius - "At the core of Eisenlohr's concern is the interplay of voice, media, affect, and listeners' experience, especially within the context of Mauritian Islamic practices."
  • Tasveer Ghar
    • Tasveer Ghar is a project by Prof. Sumathi Ramaswamy of Duke University. It is a trans-national virtual "home" for collecting, digitizing, and documenting various materials produces by South Asia's exciting popular visual sphere including posters, calendar art, pilgrimage maps and paraphernalia, cinema hoardings, advertisements, and other forms of street and bazaar art.
  • Wax
    • Wax is a minimal computing project for producing digital exhibitions focused on longevity, low costs, and flexibility. Wax aims to produce beautifully rendered, high-quality image collections and scholarly exhibits. Check out the demo from The Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar and The Qatar National Library.

Open Access Publishing

  • Cikitsā
    • Prof. Dominik Wujastyk has made a list of some open access journals that publish South Asia-related research.
  • The Kiplings and India: A Collection of Writings from British India, 1870-1900
    • This is a project by Prof. Amardeep Singh of Lehigh University.
    • It uses Scalar, a free, open source authoring and publishing platform that is designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online.
    • Watch Prof. Singh speak about using Scalar here
  • Luminos 
    • University of California Press's open access publishing program for monographs. Currently publishes titles in the South Asia Across the Disciplines series
    • Watch Prof. Andrew Ollett of Harvard University talk about OA publishing with Luminos here.
  • Manifold Scholarship
    • Open source platform for creating web-based editions of printed books. Imagine if you could integrate archival sources, audio clips, video, or additional resources into your scholarly narrative. What if you could create a draft monograph and interact with your readers before publishing? That is just some of what Manifold can do. Check out the introductory video and sample projects online (in particular, "Metagaming: Playing, Competing, Spectating, Cheating, Trading, Making, and Breaking Videogames."

Text Analysis

  • Archetype
    • Archetype is an integrated suite of web-based tools for the study of medieval handwriting, art and iconography. Using Archetype, scholars can annotate, describe and tag an image, or part of an image.
  • BOOTL - Buddhist Open Online Translation Lab
  • DCS - Digital Corpus of Sanskrit
  • Digital Indology
    • Resources for digital aspects of Indology, including TEI and grep, and instructions for using offline Sanskrit dictionaries with Stardict.
    • This is the work of Prof. Andrew Ollett of the University of Chicago.
    • Prof. Dominik Wujastyk of the University of Alberta maintains a website associated with the Indology listserv on which he includes many resources for those interested in text analysis for South Asian languages.
  • ind.senz
    • Optical character recognition (OCR) software for Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, and Sanskrit texts by Prof. Oliver Hellwig of Heidelberg University.
  • Göttingen Register of Electronic Texts in Indian Languages (GRETIL)
    • Cumulative register of download sites for electronic texts in Indian languages. E-texts available in various encodings.
  • MAHE Mahabharata Research Project
    • A project from the Department of Philosophy at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, it uses Sanskrit computational linguistics tools to analyze the syntax and semantics of digital versions of the Mahabharata and Tatparyanirnaya texts.
  • Open Philology
    • Based at Leiden University, this project will produce a corpora of Buddhist sutras mutually aligned in their Chinese, Tibetan and Sanskrit versions, a map of fomulaic content, annotated text editions and translations, a general study of the corpus, and a series of scholarly publications on methodological and content-oriented issues.
  • Rapid Online Search Engine for Scanned Materials (ROSES)
    • A tool by Prof. Gil Ben-Herut of the University of South Florida for quickly searching scanned lexicons and indexed books. Currently in use for the Kittel Kannada dictionary.
  • Search and Retrieval of Indic Texts (SARIT)
    • Collection of texts in Sanskrit and other Indian languages that have been marked up using the rich Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) system.
  • TAGS
    • A free Google Sheet template to setup and run automated collection of search results from Twitter.
  • Transkribus
    • This is the software currently being used by Heidelberg University for Naval Kishore Press - Digital, a collection of Hindi and Sanskrit texts that have been OCRed. Watch Nicole Merkel-Hilf of Heidelberg University talk about the project here
      • Heidelberg University is also testing Tesseract.
  • Voyant
    • Web-based reading and analysis environment for digital texts.

Computer programmers, scholars, libraries, and digital centers are actively working on the challenges of optical character recognition for South Asian scripts. Some initiatives to be aware of: