Since its birth, New Mandala has been an accumulation of successful experiments with new topics and countries. Since its origins as a mainland Southeast Asia blog in 2006, the site has crossed the Isthimus of Kra to Malaysia, and jumped the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea to bring readers coverage of all corners of Southeast Asia.

Today, New Mandala kicks off one of the bigger of these experiments. We’re pleased to announce that in the lead up to, and during, the 2019 Indian general elections, New Mandala will be home to a new South Asia guest blog called Near West. Near West is an initiative of the South Asia Research Institute (SARI) at the Australian National University. With the support of SARI, Towheedul Islam will be Near West’s editor. Over the coming weeks, readers will be able to access the scholarly perspectives that emerge from the 2018 ANU India Update conference, which focuses on the tensions between minority rights and majoritarian politics in today’s India.

Why host a South Asia blog at New Mandala? Well, the best way to learn what is generic, and what is distinct, about a particular entity is through comparison. The centuries of cultural and economic exchanges between South and Southeast Asia are all too obvious, not least because they leave a mark in the languages, arts and religions of many modern Southeast Asian societies. But it’s what’s happening in South Asia right now that should be of just as much interest to New Mandala readers. In this spirit, Near West will be a platform for new perspectives on politics, the arts, the legacies of history, new forms of religion, the social impacts of technology, and much more.

You can visit the Near West home page, and follow SARI on Facebook and Twitter, to keep up with the conversation.

Liam Gammon | the editor