Launch of the MIDA Online Research Portal


The fol­lo­wing report was first released in July 2019 as part of the ZMO Bul­le­tin No. 36.

In the fifth year of its exis­tence, the DFG-fun­ded, long-term pro­ject MIDA (Moder­nes Indi­en in Deut­schen Archi­ven 1706–1989) cele­bra­ted the launch of its online rese­arch por­tal (Recher­che­por­tal; https://www.projekt-mida.de/rechercheportal/). A public event was held on May 10 at the ZMO, Ber­lin. MIDA star­ted in Novem­ber 2014 and – pro­vi­ded it leads to suc­cess­ful app­li­ca­ti­ons – is plan­ned for a maxi­mum of 12 years until 2026. It is being car­ri­ed out at three aca­de­mic insti­tu­ti­ons: the Cent­re for Modern Indian Stu­dies (CeMIS) at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Göt­tin­gen, the Insti­tu­te of Asi­an and Afri­can Stu­dies (IAAW) at the Hum­boldt Uni­ver­si­ty in Ber­lin and the Zen­trum Moder­ner Ori­ent (ZMO).

MIDA´s main aim is to dis­co­ver and descri­be collec­tions of archi­val docu­ments in Ger­man insti­tu­ti­ons that are rela­ted to the poli­ti­cal, cul­tu­ral, soci­al or intel­lec­tu­al histo­ry of modern India and to the histo­ry of Indo-Ger­man ent­an­gle­ments. The pro­ject starts from the assump­ti­on that the abundance, diver­si­ty and sci­en­ti­fic poten­ti­al of collec­tions on modern India hosted in Ger­man archi­ves have been insuf­fi­ci­ent­ly appre­cia­ted so far. For the inter­na­tio­nal com­mu­ni­ty of his­to­ri­ans of India, the­se resour­ces can open up new rese­arch per­spec­tives that have remai­ned obscu­red by an exces­si­ve fixa­ti­on on Bri­tish colo­ni­al archi­ves. The lar­ge­ly unex­plo­red source mate­ri­als not only call for a recon­struc­tion of the histo­ry of Ger­man-Indian ent­an­gle­ments sin­ce the 18th cen­tu­ry, they also encou­ra­ge the deve­lop­ment of inno­va­ti­ve rese­arch ques­ti­ons in com­pa­ra­ti­ve and glo­bal histo­ry, which might be of inte­rest and inspi­ra­ti­on for issu­es of trans­na­tio­nal his­to­rio­gra­phy at lar­ge.

The MIDA online rese­arch por­tal con­sists of three parts: a Data­ba­se, an Archi­val Refle­xi­con and The­ma­tic Resour­ces. The data­ba­se con­tains sys­te­ma­tic infor­ma­ti­on about collec­tions rela­ted to modern India in Ger­man archi­ves. So far, infor­ma­ti­on on India-rela­ted hol­dings in 11 archi­ves is avail­ab­le, among them such big sta­te insti­tu­ti­ons as the Poli­ti­sches Archiv des Aus­wär­ti­gen Amts, the Bun­des­ar­chiv, the Gehei­mes Staats­ar­chiv Preus­si­scher Kul­tur­be­sitz, the Staats­ar­chiv Ham­burg and the Nie­der­säch­si­sches Lan­des­ar­chiv Han­no­ver. Besi­des the­se lar­ge collec­tions, infor­ma­ti­on is also pro­vi­ded on India-rela­ted sources in les­ser-known archi­ves in Ger­ma­ny, such as the com­mu­nal Stadt­ar­chiv Hal­le or the Archiv der Jugend­be­we­gung, Burg Lud­wig­stein in Wit­zen­hau­sen. The data­ba­se is an open-access and con­ti­nuous­ly gro­wing plat­form. 

The second pil­lar of the rese­arch por­tal, the Archi­val Refle­xi­con is an ongo­ing collec­tion of essays on his­to­ri­cal or metho­do­lo­gi­cal the­mes and collec­tions. It “is thus a refle­xi­ve lexi­con – of how to navi­ga­te through India-rela­ted hol­dings in Ger­man archi­ves, acqui­re an over­view of the same for spe­ci­fic topics, and of how to cri­ti­cal­ly enga­ge with lar­ger theo­re­ti­cal and metho­do­lo­gi­cal deba­tes that emer­ge from the exer­ci­se of tra­cing, extrac­ting, lis­ting, orde­ring and index­ing infor­ma­ti­on” (https://www.projekt-mida.de/rechercheportal/reflexicon/).

The third pil­lar of the MIDA rese­arch por­tal, the The­ma­tic Resour­ces rubric, pro­vi­des rese­arch data gene­ra­ted wit­hin MIDA, inclu­ding a list of all suc­cess­ful­ly com­ple­ted India-rela­ted PhDs at Ger­man uni­ver­si­ties bet­ween 1783 and 2013.

The MIDA team is extre­me­ly thank­ful to the Deut­sche For­schungs­ge­mein­schaft (DFG) for fun­ding this pro­ject, to our three insti­tu­ti­ons, CEMIS, IAAW and ZMO for hos­ting it, to the MIDA advi­so­ry board for its con­ti­nuous sup­port and to the ser­vice Cen­ter eSci­en­ces in Trier for deve­lo­ping and pro­vi­ding us with the necessa­ry soft­ware. But first, we thank the archi­ves and insti­tu­ti­ons we have visi­ted so far for their inte­rest in MIDA, their open­ness and their sup­port. We hope that the alrea­dy exis­ting and upco­m­ing results will be used inten­si­ve­ly by rese­ar­chers and invi­te users to get in touch with us with feed­back, sug­ges­ti­ons or con­tri­bu­ti­ons.

by Hei­ke Lie­bau (ZMO)

Source: ZMO Bul­le­tin No. 36.