Heinrich Zimmer Chair for Philosophy and Intellectual History
The Heinrich Zimmer Chair for Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History is awarded by the Indian government through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). The ICCR is the highest-ranking institution for the promotion of international cultural exchanges in India, and the Heinrich Zimmer Chair is the first chair of its kind promoted by the ICCR in Germany for Indian philosophy and intellectual history. The foundation for this fellowship was laid in November 2009 with the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the ICCR and the University of Heidelberg. On 28th of June 2010 the Heinrich Zimmer Chair was inaugurated at Heidelberg University by India's Ambassador to Germany, his Excellency Sudhir Vyas. This new professorial fellowship has been set up for an initial period of two years.
The Heinrich Zimmer Chair is part of the South Asia Institute as well as the cluster of excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”. In addition there is close co-operation particular in teaching with the department of philosophy of the Heidelberg University. In this manner the chair connects research and teaching at the South Asia Institute with other academics from departments of the Ruperto Carola. Thus the fellowship contributes to the developing good relations in the area of scientific research between India and Germany.
The name of the chair goes back to professor Heinrich Zimmer (1890-1943), who was a professor for Indian philology in Heidelberg from 1924 to 1938. Next to Max Müller (1823-1900) he was the most important German scholar in this field. In 1938 Heinrich Zimmer had to leave the university under pressure from the National Socialists. He emigrated to England and later to the USA. Zimmer’s numerous publications, include "Myths and symbol in Indian kind and Civilization" or "The King and the Corpse" both published posthumously & edited by Joseph Cambell. These books had noticeable effect on influential intellects, like C.G.Jung, Karl Jaspers or Alfred Weber. In 2008 the SAI has established a Heinrich Zimmer reading room in its library.
The first holder of the Heinrich Zimmer Chair was the renowned Indian science historian Prof. Dhruv Raina (JNU, New Delhi). His research has focused on the politics and cultural impact of scientific knowledge in South Asia. In his writings he addressed the encounter between modern science and the so called “traditional sciences” in colonial India and he has been working on cultures of history and science policy in postcolonial South Asia. This is in addition to his long preoccupation with postcolonial theory of science and the historiography of Indian mathematics. His current research has a focus on the philosophical and sociological aspects of India’s postcolonial theory and history of science.
The second chairholder of the Heinrich-Zimmer Chair was the Indian Philosopher and Historian Senior Assistant Professor Heeraman Tiwari (JNU, New Delhi). His research focuses on Indian Philosophy (Epistemology, Language, Logic, Moral Philosophy and Buddhist Thoughts); Intellectual History of Ancient and Medieval India; Sanskrit Language and Literature; Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina Religious History; Medieval Hindi Literature and Literary Criticism.
The third chairholder of the Heinrich-Zimmer Chair was Prof. Amiya P. Sen (Modern Indian History at the Department of History and Culture at Jamia Millia Islamia). His prime focus of interest is the intellectual and cultural history of Modern India and he has published widely on Hinduism as well as biographical studies on eminent Indian historical figures.