Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Kathmandu Branch Office
Resident Representative
Monalisa Maharjan


South Asia Institute
Heidelberg University
Kathmandu Branch Office
Ward No. 1, Kupondole Height
P.O. Box 4379
Patan, Nepal

Office +977 1 543 72 04

Microfilm-Ordering Process
Starting from June 1, 2016 we resume the microfilm-ordering process of the former Nepal Research Centre (NRC) at the National Archives in Kathmandu.


Current Research Projects

Urban transformation and placemaking: Fostering Learning from South Asia and Germany (DAAD)

The teaching initiative involves a partnership between Heidelberg University, the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) in Delhi, and Kathmandu University (KU). The partnership will jointly explore how institutions of higher education can respond to significant urban transformations in Germany and South Asia, and what can be learned from these substantial changes. The focus will be on "placemaking," that is, how people shape their urban habitats and everyday worlds in cities. Within this framework, the project will pay particular attention to urban responses to natural disasters, such as earthquakes and disruptions due to climate change, as well as man-made crises, engendered by migration, conflicts over heritage management, or ethno-cultural diversity.


Heritage as Placemaking

This research project explores what enables or stymies heritage and the potential of heritagisation to ignite solidaric formations. The cultural dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals lies in the commitment of people to work together, to make place. Likewise, living heritage requires the individuals’ commitment to engage, collaborate, and invest in the joint cultural future of communities. This project is critical of the role of external authorities and experts in the process of sustaining cultural heritage and instead invests in those who identify with heritage, who uphold and maintain its existence. The goal of HaP is to investigate precisely what unites people and what therefore enables them to create heritage as placemaking.


Ageing in Urban Nepal: Perspectives of Senior Citizens on Migration, Urbanization, and Social Change

This PhD project explores the variable perspectives on ageing in middle-class Kathmandu, emphasizing the rapid urban changes as well as shifting family structures as intergenerational relations become ever more strongly influenced by increasing migration within Nepal and abroad. The project is part of the previous interdisciplinary research group Ageing in a Transcultural Context.


Contemporary Art in Urban Nepal

This project focuses on contemporary art, urban space, and social change in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal.
A recent outcome of this project is the volume Breaking Views. Engaging Art in Post-Earthquake Nepal, edited by Christiane Brosius and Sanjeev Maharjan. The main focus of the book is photographs, interviews, and installations of the artist Sanjeev Maharjan. The artist’s work is discussed in terms of the careful reflection it offers of the weeks and months after the earthquake in 2015. The volume also addresses the broader context of art’s role in society and of a rapidly urbanizing world. The different views presented in the book facilitate the “breaking” of dominant narratives of catastrophe that often overshadow individual experiences because of their heightened sensationalism. The volume is distributed by Himal Books .It was launched at the Kathmandu Triennale on March 26, 2017 as part of an exhibition and panel discussion on home, city, and migration.


Documents on the History of Religion and Law in Premodern Nepal

This project aims at understanding developments the formation of the Himalayan state gave rise to, such as the restructuring of social institutions or the expansion of Hindu rule. Research is based on a corpus of documents available in public and private archives of the Kathmandu Valley. Among the documents, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, particular attention is given to those relating to religious institutions (such as edicts, land grants, contracts, foundation charters, and letters) and to legal and administrative practice (such as court decisions having to do with moral conduct, or caste regulations). Many documents held by the National Archives and other governmental institutions were microfilmed by the Nepal German Manuscript Preservation Project, but only some of them have so far been edited, translated, or studied 


Ethnicity and Livelihoods in Highland Nepal

This project explores the multiple ways in which ethnicity is produced in Nepal’s constant state of transformation. Its objective is to understand how ethnic imaginations contribute to the reframing of communities, territories, and practices, and to untangle the changing relationship between the state and society. Geographically, the project focuses on the northern borderlands across from China, taking both historical and contemporary socio-political contexts into consideration. It describes the condition of a world in the Himalayan mountains subject to flux, and in which order is only ever contingent.


Nepal Heritage Documentation Project

This project will focus on cataloguing buildings that have been destroyed or damaged by earthquakes and radical urban change. Over a test period of two years, four hundred endangered historical sites, including temples, monasteries, and other building types will be documented and inventoried. The material will be made freely available in an online database which will comprise descriptions, pictures, inscriptions, and architectural drawings of buildings. The database will serve as a resource to support informed recommendations on how to preserve endangered sites or reconstruct historical buildings. Sixteen specialists from the fields of architecture, anthropology, history, Indology, and digital humanities from Heidelberg and Kathmandu will collaborate to achieve the stated goals.


Past Projects

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