On Friday the 4th and Saturday the 5th of
February, the department of History of South Asia (SAI, Heidelberg) conducted a
workshop for young academics on the topic of “Hierarchy and Emancipation” in
the premises of the South Asia Institute. The comparably open choice of two
topics with such deeply differing normative connotations could only be coherent
regarding the decided claim towards interdisciplinarity, under which the whole
event had been set up. This claim was seized on and integrated in their own
research by the participating PhD-students, themselves originating from
different backgrounds within the multiple branches of the humanities.
On Friday, Prof. Martin Furchs (Max-Weber-Kolleg, Erfurt) in an opening
lecture presented important findings of his highly influential research on
Dalit movements in India: following the title - “Autonomy, Acceptance and
Self-transcendence: Marginality and the project of social transformation” - Fuchs,
premising action-theoretical approaches such as Axel Honneth’s recognition theorem, pointed to the semantic
ambiguity of the concepts “Hierarchy and Emancipation” as well as the
difficulty within their theoretical and methodological functionalization .
During the second part of the workshop on Saturday, seven PhD-students (Livia
Loosen/Erfurt, Sebastian Pampuch/Berlin, Paromita Das Gupta/Zürich, Anna Ewers,
Thomas Kuhn/both Frankfurt, Kai Fürstenberg, Milinda Banerjee/both Heidelberg)
presented their research and empirical contexts, each from his/her own
academical background. The different insights, developed from historical, psychological,
sociological, anthropological and political science perspectives, were then
brought together with the theoretical implications offered by the theme of the
The discussions that followed the presentations
facilitated a highly productive exchange that transcended the borders of the
individual disciplines and could only be possible on the grounds of interdisciplinarity.
The workshop could also be attended by students; an opportunity that was made
use of by both graduates and undergraduates.
(Text: Rafael Klöber)