Colombo Branch Office of the South Asia Institute
The South Asia Institute (SAI) at University of Heidelberg was established in 1962 and opened an Indian branch office in New Delhi in the same year. Unlike other European universities at that time, SAI at Heidelberg was keen not to limit South Asian studies to India but to include India’s neighbours by broadening the institute’s regional focus. In addition to its branch offices and regional representatives in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, the SAI opened a branch office in Colombo in 1999. It was closed for security reasons in 2007, but has recently re-opened with Darshi Thoradeniya as its branch office manager. The branch office is located at the Social Policy Analysis and Research Centre (SPARC) of the University of Colombo, with which the SAI has had a strong relationship for more than ten years. A Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions was signed on the 24th of March 2014, with the intention of fostering mutual collaboration. Though based at University of Colombo, the branch office fosters academic contact and cooperation with universities and academic institutions all over Sri Lanka.
As a post war country Sri Lanka is entering an ambiguous phase today and is faced with a number of pressing issues such as regional development, implementation of Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations, militarization, displacement and relocation. In order to address these issues, concepts such as democracy, human rights, identity, good governance and participatory development have to be critically interrogated and redefined. The South Asia Institute is prepared to take up these issues due to its wide range of academic disciplines that cover social, economic and geographical studies together with cultural Studies grounded in history of the region as well as philological expertise. Today the South Asia Institute has seven professorships: namely Anthropology, Development Economics, Geography, History, Cultural and Religious History of South Asia (formerly Classical Indology), Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures (formerly Modern Indology) as well as Political Science. The institute also cooperates closely with all other Departments and Institutes in Heidelberg that have a focus on South Asia, too, especially the chairs of Global Art History, Visual and Media Anthropology and Buddhist Studies.
For SAI members of staff and students the Colombo Branch office aims to facilitate
- student visits and excursions
- student internships
- junior and senior staff exchanges
- research collaborations
- joint summer schools, conferences, workshops and other forms of scientific and educational cooperation
- joint degree programmes
- information about research and study opportunities at SAI