The SAI Kathmandu Office is affiliated with Heidelberg University’s South Asia Institute (SAI). The SAI was established in 1962 and is one of Europe’s leading teaching and research institutes focusing on South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). Combining seven departments in global humanities and social sciences, it is an interdisciplinary knowledge exchange platform for faculty, affiliated researchers, and students. Its aim is to contribute to a better and more integrated understanding of South Asian realities, past and present, and to encourage dialogues with policy makers, development practitioners, and other experts.
The SAI houses the most comprehensive library on South Asia in Germany, including books and journals, manuscripts and maps, and electronic media.
In order to improve research facilities and academic networks, the SAI operates four branch offices: Colombo (Sri Lanka), Delhi (India), Islamabad (Pakistan), and Kathmandu (Nepal)..
The SAI Kathmandu Office signed its first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tribhuvan University in 1987. At that time, it was closely related to the Nepal Research Centre (NRC). The MoU has been renewed for five-years terms ever since.
Its fundamentally collaborative and inclusive nature has allowed the SAI Kathmandu Office to become a well-established research institute in Kathmandu. Bringing together scholars and practitioners, it aims to link expertise and encourages synergies between disciplines, regions, and practices.
Current activities of the SAI Kathmandu Office include:
- Research support: The SAI Kathmandu Office provides a huge range of support for researchers, post-docs, and students, ranging from help in finding a place to stay, to guidance on attending languages classes, advancing a career, and obtaining a research visa.
- Collaboration: Almost all activities—from research to conferences— are based on collaboration. Of great relevance to all activities is the working together with Nepalese or other Asian partners.
- Exchange: Academic exchange programs allow Nepalese scholars to visit German universities.
- Academic activities and events: These include the organization of conferences and workshops, exhibitions, and public lectures.
The SAI Kathmandu Office believes that an understanding of everyday South Asian realities is becoming more and more important in the present globalized world. To advance that understanding it works together with academic, cultural, and educational institutions. Close links exist with the ANHS Kathmandu Research Center, Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS), School for International Training (SIT), Social Science Baha and Martin Chautari. In the areas of Asian literature, cinema, and art it collaborates with ArTree Nepal, Photo Circle, Saraf Foundation, Srijanalaya, and The Nepal Picture Library.
In October 2018 the SAI Kathmandu Office enlarged its premises and now also houses the Research Unit “Documents on the History of Religion and Law of Premodern Nepal” of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) of Hamburg University, thus forming the Nepal Research Bhavan.