Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Geschichte Südasiens


Vorträge beim Deutschen Historikertag, 21. September 2016, in Hamburg
Am 51. Deutschen Historikertag in Hamburg halten Prof. Dr. Gita Dharampal-Frick und Herr Rafael Klöber zwischen 11:15 und 13:15 folgende Vorträge:
Prof. Dr. Dharampal-Frick: Der britische Kolonialismus in Indien und das ‚Endspiel‘ des British Raj.
Rafael Klöber: Hippies, Yoga, Terrorismus. Religion in Indien aus historischer und globaler Perspektive.

20.06.2017 R316 SAI Heidelberg 18:00 Uhr c.t. - Dr. Mai Lin Tjoa-Bonatz
Entlang der maritimen Seidenstraße: Frühe Kulturkontakte zwischen Südasien und Südostasien.


06.12.2016 R316 SAI Heidelberg 18:00 Uhr c.t. - Dr. Abhijeet Paul
Meter and metal: Visvakarma's Bengal, past and present.


20.11.2015 Altes Rathaus - Marktplatz, 61231 Bad Nauheim 19:00 Uhr - Prof. Dr. Gita Dharampal-Frick:
Mahatma Gandhi und der Islam


27.10.2015 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:00 Uhr - Ravi Mehra:
Civil Disobedience in Nehruvian India: Lohia, the Socialists and the Nation-wide Civil Disobedience Campaign of 1960

09.12.2014 R317, SAI Heidelberg 18:00 Uhr - Dr. Gautam Ghosh (Otago, New Zealand): Time's Sovereign: Partition and Progress in Great(er) Bengal


02.12.2014 R317, SAI Heidelberg 18:00 Uhr - Prof. Tana Showren (Rajiv Gandhi University):"Oral Traditions:In Lieu of a Written History of the Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh"

28.10.2014 R317, SAI Heidelberg 18:00Uhr - Prof. Gregg Röber
Penn State University


17.06.2014 R316, SAI Heidelberg 19:00 Uhr - Prof. Pradipta Chaudhury Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
CASTE, CLASS AND PUBLIC POLICY IN INDIA: Historical Trajectory and Contemporary Issues

04.06.2014 Z10, SAI Heidelberg 18:00 Uhr - In Kooperation mit der
Deutsch-Indischen Gesellschaft, Heidelberg
Prof. Mridula Mukherjee
Prof. Aditya Mukherjee
Prof. Dr. Subrata Mitra
Prof. Dr. em. Dietmar Rothermund
Prof. Dr. Gita Dharampal-Frick
PODIUMSDISKUSSION zu den Parlamentswahlen in Indien

Abstract de

Abstract eng

03.06.2014 R316, SAI Heidelberg 19:00 Uhr - Prof. Mridula Mukherjee
Centre for Historical Studies, New Delhi

Democracy in India: Past and Present
Democracy has survived and even flourished in India for over six decades since Independence, with the sixteenth General Elections having taken place less than a month ago. The predictions of many prophets of doom have been belied in the process. In 1967, Neville Maxwell, considered an expert on India, predicted with certainty that the next elections (1967) were bound to be the last! When democracy refused to go away as ordered, it was dismissed as only “formal” and not “substantive”. However, the 65 per cent voter turnout in this year's elections places a big question-mark on this kind of judgment. - To understand democracy's trajectory, we need to look also at its history, particularly at that embedded in the story of the movement for Independence. The ideas of democracy, of civil liberties, of representative government, of republicanism, of citizenship, were all articulated, popularized, practised and internalized by the leaders, cadres and participants. Nationalist constitutional demands were, generally at least, a couple of decades ahead of British constitutional concessions. Democracy was not a gift of colonialism but a path chosen, wrested and fashioned according to their genius by the people of India.

03.06.2014 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:00 Uhr - Prof. Aditya Mukherjee
Centre for Historical Studies, New Delhi

Resurgence of Colonial Perspectives in Contemporary Indian Historiography
The revisionist view of colonialism which seeks to portray colonialism in a positive light has now become once again fashionable, though it actually repeats colonial arguments which are often more than a hundred years old, dating from the 19th century. In the economic sphere it is being argued (Niall Ferguson, Tirthankar Roy, Meghnad Desai, etc.) that colonialism had a positive impact on the colonies, creating the conditions for capitalist development. This approach includes the denial of the critical role played by colonial surplus appropriation in the transition to capitalism in Europe and North America (Kocka). Surprisingly this is true even among a section of the Left (Maurice Dobb, Perry Anderson, Robert Brenner, etc.). An engrained eurocentricism evident even among the most sophisticated Marxists historians, like Eric Hobsbawm, perhaps explains this. However, others on the Left (such as Irfan Habib, Sven Beckert, A. K. Bagchi, etc.) question this view. In the political sphere, too, the resurgence of the colonial position is not limited to clearly neo-colonial trends represented by the so-called Cambridge school (Anil Seal, B. R. Tomlinson, etc., with stiff competition from Oxford, cf. Judith Brown, Maria Misra, etc.), but is now finding takers not only among ‘radicals’ like Arundhati Roy, and the motley stream occupied by post modernism, ‘post-colonial’ culture studies, subaltern studies, but also among some Marxists like Perry Anderson. They have launched a vicious critique of Indian nationalism and the Indian nation state, demonizing every nationalist icon that emerged in India from the secular platform of the Indian National Congress (from Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad to Jawaharlal Nehru), using essentially the tools of analysis perfected by the colonial Indian state. The talk will discuss these developments and attempt to deconstruct the underlying rationale.

07.05.2014 R Z10, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Prof. Dr. Bhairabi Prasad Sahu
University of Delhi

The British Indian Empire and the Anti-Colonial Struggle of 1857-58
German historical interest in Odisha over the last forty years has had important implications for the writing of history of the region, as well as early India in general. The combined efforts of a team of indologists, historians, social anthropologists and linguists has led to new sets of questions being brought to bear on the study of the region. It has led to the gradual evolution of a new socio-cultural discourse centred on the region’s autochthonous inheritances, the continuous process of local and sub-regional state formation and the making of a regional tradition drawing on varied influences. The history of a tribe-caste continuum and the ‘Hinduization’ of tribes as well as the tribalization of ‘Hinduism’ have influenced a whole generation of scholars and informed their writings. Writing the histories of the regions, state and legitimation studies, the integrative model of state and social formation in early medieval India, and the issue of periodization in Indian history have immensely benefited from the productive interactions between the German scholars, historians working on Odisha, and those on pre-modern India, in general.

06.05.2014 R Z10, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Prof. Amar Farooqui
Delhi University

The British Indian Empire and the Anti-Colonial Struggle of 1857-58
The anti-colonial struggle of 1857-58 labelled variously as 'sepoy mutiny', 'revolt' or 'war of independence' was a significant moment in the long history of resistance to colonial rule in India. As is well known, the revolt commenced with the mutiny of Indian soldiers of the East India Company's army. It soon developed into a widespread and violent struggle to overthrow the Company's state and at its height encompassed large parts of northern, central and eastern India. Several hundred thousand Indians, a significant proportion of whom were non-combatants, were killed during the upheaval and immediately after it had been brutally suppressed. The events of 1857-58 have been the subject of an intense debate, essentially between those who have sought to belittle the significance of the uprising, and those who have attempted to highlight the historical importance of the revolt as a glorious chapter in the history of the fight against imperialist oppression and exploitation. The immense output of published material on the struggle during the latter half of the nineteenth century, exclusively from the perspective of the triumphant British, e nsured the ascendancy of the colonial version of the event.In my lecture I look at this contested history by examining some aspects of the historiography of the struggle, especially in the light of the problems of source material. It is virtually impossible, for instance, to reconstruct events such as the 'Kanpur massacres' (central to the colonial narrative) as the archival record has been completely erased. Some of the recent research on Delhi, however, allows us to comprehend, even if in a fragmentary manner, the actions of the 'rebels', their ideas, and the kind of alternative political structure they envisaged. In this context I propose to comment briefly on the question of sovereignty, and shall conclude with some general observations on the character of the colonial state in the late nineteenth century

05.05.2014 R212, KJC Heidelberg 18:00 Uhr - Patrick Olivelle
University of Austin

The Vedic Foundation of dharma: Epistemological Debates (Workshop)

06.05.2014 R212, KJC Heidelberg 18:00 Uhr - Patrick Olivelle
University of Austin

The Vedic Foundation of dharma: Epistemological Debates (Vortrag)
The system built around the concept of dharma, I argue, is undoubtedly a legal system. My starting point is H.L.A. Hart's (2012) The Concept of Law, perhaps the most influential work on the philosophy of law. Central to his philosophy is what he calls "the rule of recognition". The rule of recognition, simply put, provides both ordinary citizens and state officials, especially judges, the criteria for identifying what is a valid law and what is not. In other words, it deals with the epistemology or, in the case of Indian jurists, pramāṇa, of law: where do we find law, or in the present case, dharma? My paper addresses the development of a Brahmanical jurisprudence of dharma and its epistemology centered on the theory that dharma is found in and founded on the Veda. Between 500 and 1000 CE, we see scholars discussing the serious problems that flow from this basic principle. Given that most of what passes for dharma within Brahmanism is not found in the extant Vedic texts but in later texts known as smṛti, how can this principle be sustained? The most realistic answers to these problems come from scholars within the Indian legal tradition called Dharmaśāstra. Medhātithi, perhaps the greatest Indian jurist, frankly acknowledges that not all dharma is based on the Veda. The multiplicity of dharma, divided according the time, place, and community, is central to the Brahmanical understanding of dharma, in spite of theological veneer of its Vedic basis.

02.05.2014 R317, SAI Heidelberg 14:15 Uhr - Ankur Kakkar
„Shiksha in Early Colonial North India: A reassessment of education in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Benares”

02.05.2014 R317, SAI Heidelberg 14:15 Uhr - Dario Kaidel
“The Bengal Famine of 1770: Inclusive reflections from the perspective of environmental history”

28.01.2014 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Divya Narayanan, M.A.
The Emperor’s Table: Food, Culture and Power

This talk will examine the role of food in the symbolisms of power and status in the Mughal Empire. I intend to examine the channels through which food symbolisms were conveyed, and how these may be interpreted with in the context of imperial legitimisation and expressions of social rank. I shall argue that the evolution of imperial articulations of power by successive emperors of the Mughal Empire was accompanied by distinctive shifts in food customs and feasting traditions. Ideas about food also occupied a key place in ideologies of imperial legitimisation. I will analyse the manner in which the attempts to assert a stronger imperial presence under Akbar led to changes in food articulations at the Mughal court. I will show that these changes engendered a separation of food spaces between the genders, as well as the development of stricter and more circumscribed forms of food etiquette and feasting customs. All these were aimed at placing the person of the Mughal emperor above the other notables of the realm. I will also demonstrate the manner in which these imperial food articulations may be read in the urban spaces of Mughal cities.

14.01.2014 R317, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Prof. Burkhard Schnepel
Seminar für Ethnologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Connectivity in Motion: Port Cities of the Indian Ocean
Der Indische Ozean ist mit knapp 69 Millionen Quadratkilometern der drittgrößte Ozean der Welt. Er verbindet mehrere Kontinente; seine Anrainerstaaten zeichnen sich durch große Diversität in kulturellen, sozialen, religiösen, sprachlichen, wirtschaftlichen und politischen Dingen aus. Gibt es den Indik denn überhaupt als Einheit? Und wenn ja, worin besteht diese und wie kann man sie erforschen? Sollte man nicht besser an Land bleiben, wo man, nicht nur im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes, sondern auch epistemologisch gesehen, festen Grund unter den Füßen hat und wo die geographische Rahmung eines Forschungsgebietes prägnanter und möglichst auch kleinteiliger festgelegt werden kann? Diese Fragen wird der geplante Vortrag spezifizieren und die anschließende Diskussion eventuell klären. Es wird zudem einen Einblick geben in die empirischen, methodologischen und theoretischen Belange eines vor kurzem am Max-Planck-Institut für Ethnologie in Halle begonnenen fünfjährigen Forschungsprogramms unter dem Titel „Connectivity in Motion – Port Cities of the Indian Ocean“, das der Vortragende als „Max-Planck-Fellow“ leitet.

03.12.2013 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Sandhya Marla, M.A. -
Centrum für Religionswissenschaftliche Studien, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

"Heute ist die Marienkapelle mein Tempel": Geschichte und Ritualdynamiken der christlichhinduistischen Tamilenwallfahrt in Kevelaer

19.11.2013 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Felix Eickelbeck, M.A. -
The Discourse on Cruelty to Animals in Colonial India: Between Religion and Biopolitics

In this talk I am going to introduce my PhD project which explores the exchange of ideas and concepts concerning the discourse on and the categorization of ‘animals’ in colonial India as well as instances of violence against them. I am interested in the transculturality of animal welfare organizations and their ‘moral’ interventions in colonial South Asia and want to interrogate the influence of ‘indigenous’ South Asian concepts and practices, such as ahimsa regarding the treatment of animals, on the discourse in ‘the West’. These debates on violence against ‘animals’ are, I argue, part of a larger discourse on social and religious reforms in late 19th and early 20th century South Asia and Europe. The actors I am interrogating draw mostly on religious argumentation, while I will also examine the debate in the larger framework of sovereignty and biopolitics in the colony. I would be happy to discuss with you my hypothesis in this early stage of the project.

11.11.2013 Z10, SAI Heidelberg 16:15 Uhr - >Prof. Dr. Hermann Kulke -
Die frühe Urbanisierung und Staatenbildung in der Buddhazeit

05.11.2013 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Dr. Daniel Münster -
Alternative Agricultures in South India: Farming Experiments between High-Tech and Heritage

This paper discusses a variety of experiments and projects in response to an ecological and social crisis of agriculture in South India. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Wayanad (Kerala) the paper argues that in the wake of crisis many small-holders seek alternative ways of cultivation that are both more viable and more sustainable. By referring to the agro-environmental history of Wayanad I show that agrarian alternatives emerge as responses to situated experiences of health problems, ruin, degradation and despair. I thus argue that innovative engagements with land, soil and markets are best studied in conjunction with regional ethnographies of agro-ecological crises in the context of contemporary capitalism. In the district under study, at a moment of uncertainty for smallholders, a range of alternative agrarian possibilities emerge that range from farmers embracing neoliberal capitalism and its promise of high-tech fixes (new cash crops, precision farming, poly house farming) and to rejecting it in farming models that point towards a revival of India's agronomical heritage and alternative economies (natural farming, revival of seed heritage, organic farming). Taken together these agrarian possibilities constitute a situation of agronomical pluralism (in analogy to the medial pluralism) with complex entanglements of situated knowledges, science and alternative science.

04.11.2013 Z10, SAI Heidelberg 16:15 Uhr - >Prof. Dr. Hermann Kulke -
Die vedische Gesellschaft und die Siedlungen in der Gangesebene bis 600 v. Chr.

22.10.2013 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Rafael Klöber, M.A. -
Looking for the “philosophical knights in Caiva robes“

Tamil Saivism has experienced a small crisis and a public shock during the last two year s. This was mainly due to the scandals surrounding infamous Swami Nithyananda and his temporary involvement and official role played at the old and renowned religious institution of Madurai Adhi nam. The affair had not only led to a media outcry and court activities, but also to manifold forms of protest against the appointment of a dubious figure like Nithyananda as official successor to the head of Madurai Adhinam. Like many lay organizations, Saivite Mutts and Adhinams all over Tamil Nadu published a joint protest note, condemning the developments at Madurai. Traditionally, leading-roles in this action were played by the biggest and most influential Saivite monastic institutions in Tamil Nadu, namely the Dharmapuram Adhinam and the Thiruvavaduthurai Adhinam. The paper will focus on the latter, which, undoubtedly holds a unique position in Tamil Nadu. Both institutions, however, consid er themselves to be centers of Saivism and more specifically, of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy, the “choicest product of Dravidian intellect”. After Saiva Siddhanta being molded into a universal, inclusive and at the same time Tamil/Dravidian religion in the early 20th century, some “orthodox”religious organizations – most prominently the Thiruvavaduthurai Adhinam – have taken up the task of propagation of Saiva Siddhanta outside their own walls. For the last 20 years, the Adhinam has institutionalized a network of popular teaching and organized learning in South India and even beyond. In my paper, I will analyze these (discursive) networks, their influences and interplay with current “heterodox” or popular forms of Tamil Saiva Siddhanta organizations who might have their own particular agendas. Important points of discussion in this field are, for example, questions of language (Tamil, Sanskrit, English etc.), lineage (textual and personal), and religious or cultural identity. The contemporary discourses on Saiva Siddhanta revolve around these issues, which are today discussed in a global arena. By touching on the example of Tamil Saiva Siddhanta, the paper will elaborate on key problems of writing religious history and position the topic within the wider framework of my PhD thesis.

23.07.2013 R317, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Divya Narayanan, M.A. -
Healing through Food and Medicine: Dietetics and Pharmacology in Indo-Persian Medical Texts

Food and medicine were inseparable in early modern medicine, and dietetics lay at the core of healing practices. Thus, it is not surprising that there existed a large corpus of Persian medical texts devoted to dietetics and pharmacology. Most of these texts may very broadly be situated within what came to be known as the “Unani medical system”. This presentation will examine the taxonomy and conceptual frameworks within which foods and drugs were organised, compiled and described in Indo-Persian medical texts between the sixteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Furthermore, it will seek to understand the cultural and intellectual background as well as genealogy of these pharmacological concepts. What did the interface between medical and culinary practice imply for pharmacological and dietetic ideas? How did these texts grapple with the theoretical complexities involved in conceptualising food and medicine as distinct entities? And what was the nature of consistency or variability in taxonomic classifications across the corpus of medical texts? Finally, I will also examine the social and institutional contexts within which these texts were produced, and the manner in which these milieus influenced their intellectual and ideational content. The links with other Indian medical traditions as well as colonial appropriations of the Indo-Persian medical corpus will also form a part of this analysis.

10.07.2013 R317, SAI Heidelberg 14:15 Uhr - Dr. Raj Sekhar Basu -
ICCR Chair in Indian Studies, Mykolo Romeris University, Vilnius

Caste in contemporary India
Caste as an institution on some occasions continues to be a reference point in any discussion on the functioning of social life, hierarchies and their relations to power structures in India. But, there are simultaneous assertions about its diminishing role in the quotidian life of the people in India. It is difficult to support any of these two contentions, since somewhere in the middle lies the answer. The discussion on the contemporary significance of caste would take into consideration the changing pattern of interactions between caste and politics in the last decades of the twentieth century, the changes in identity politics and the emergence of caste associations in the post Mondal period and the views on the caste class continuum.

09.07.2013 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Dr. Raj Sekhar Basu -
ICCR Chair in Indian Studies, Mykolo Romeris University, Vilnius

Exploring the origins of the Girmitya System in late nineteenth century Fiji:
The tale of expectations and exploitation

The Girmitya system, commonly called indenture in English, was an agreement which bound emigrant labourers to their new masters in an alien country for a fixed period of time. In Fiji, the period of indenture usually lasted five years and before the completion of the term, there was little opportunity to earn a return passage to India. Historians have debated over the links between indenture and new forms of colonial slavery subsequent to slavery’s abolition in many parts of the world by the mid nineteenth century. The main controversy is about whether the system was very exploitative (guaranteeing few benefits to the emigrants), or whether the system benefitted an exploited humanity in India to escape from the injustices and gain a new sense of freedom in the plantation economy.

14.05.2013 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Dr. Madhusree Mukerjee -
An Indigenous Struggle with Development
In a western district of West Bengal in India, stone quarries have encroached on the agricultural land of the indigenous Santals. Boulders blasted out of the ground have fallen on huts and fields, wounding and killing the unlucky; dust billowing from crushers has caused lung disease and smothered crops; and cracks induced underground have caused the water table to fall, drying up ponds and wells. With agriculture increasingly unviable, many Santals labor instead in the quarries and crushers, in unsafe conditions. Social ills abound. The cash economy has facilitated alcoholism, while the exposure of female Santal laborers to overseers at the quarries and crushers has led to an epidemic of sexual exploitation. Since 1994, however, a Calcutta-based activist has helped organize Santals against these ills, with mixed success. In 2010, for instance, thousands of Santals marched in procession and closed down hundreds of quarries and crushers. In retaliation goons associated with the quarry owners burned down three villages, and when that did not suffice to crush the agitation, almost the entire leadership was bought off. Now Santals are reviving their traditional form of governance by a hierarchy of elected, accountable chiefs to pose the most potent challenge yet to the industry. The convoluted course of the struggle illustrates both the tactics used by opponents to derail movements, some of which are universal (intimidation, incitement to violence, cooption) and the processes that may eventually lead to measurable, if not complete, success.

30.04.2013 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Sadia Bajwa, M.A.,
'Alternative' Politics:Pakistan in its Formative Decades 1940s - 1969
For the most part Pakistan is studied through the prism of a crisis discourse which has obscured the nuances and dynamism of its political and social history. Instead of focusing on crisis as something to be explained, it can also be taken as a starting point to study the way crisis is negotiated and experienced in different spheres of life in Pakistan. The crisis of nationalism in Pakistan, for example, can tell us something about the existence of alternate visions for society and the nation. Alongside the emerging official nationalism, ‘alternative’ forces such as Leftist literary movements, labour movements, student politics, and pan-Islamic political visions all contributed to the debates on defining the Pakistani nation. The paper aims to highlight aspects of these alternative politics and visions for society in the post-independence early decades of Pakistan's history.

29.01.2013 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Rafael Klöber, M.A. -
Sanskrit, Tamil and Tradition: Current Discourses in Tamil Saiva Siddhanta
Tamil Saiva Siddhanta has long been neglected in the study of Indian religions. In recent years, some historical accounts have been presented, dealing with the late 19th and early 20th century period – a time that had considerable impact on the framing of modern South Asian religions. Naturally, the discourses on Indian religions at the time, particularly on „Hinduism“, resulted in strong reactions among Tamil elites, who tried to contest dominant views of a Sanskrit-biased, Brahman, Advaita-centered Hinduism and introduce a South Indian school of Saivism, namely Saiva Siddhanta, as its “true” form. My study, however, focuses on current forms and discourses of Saiva Siddhanta in Tamil Nadu. The presentation tries to link up empirical data with post-structuralist theoretical approaches to (re)present the recent religious scenario. Strikingly, this scenario shows involvement in discussions about the role of Sanskrit, Tamil and tradition – seemingly quite similar to those at the turn of the century.

15.01.2013 R316, SAI Heidelberg 18:15 Uhr - Divya Narayanan, M.A. -
Culinary Cross-Pollinations:Transcultural Food Encountersin the Early Modern South Asian Context

The Mughal Empire in India enjoyed significant trading links and cultural contact with Central Asia, Iran and Europe. These interactions resulted in cross-pollinations of culinary cultures as well as changes in dietary habits and taste. This cultural contact was also reflected in some of the cookbooks of the period, which played the role of cultural purveyors between the culinary worlds of the Europeans and the Indo-Persian elite. Another significant aspect of these transcultural interactions was the entry and absorption of New World foods: in particular, tomatoes, potatoes and chillies. Culinary interactions took place not only across geographical and cultural zones, but also between closely interacting social groups within the subcontinent, for instance between the Mughals and the Rajputs. The object of my talk will be to examine the manner in which these various culinary interactions and changes took place, and to examine possible theoretical paradigms to better explain and understand these processes. I analyse these themes by looking at some new manuscript sources and adopting interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives.

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