Germans in 18th Century India: A Social History of Everyday Life (Program and Abstracts)


Workshop Program

The work­shop pro­gram can be down­loaded as PDF file here.

Thursday, 12.12.2019

11:00–11:30 am

Wel­come and intro­duc­tion
Ravi Ahu­ja, Michael Mann, Tobias Delfs

11:30–12:30 am

Indi­an soci­ety in the 18th cen­tu­ry through a Ger­man lens
Chen Tzoref-Ashke­nazi, Berlin

12:30 am

Lunch

Career as a motivation for European Migration to India?

1:30–2:30 pm

Moti­va­tions to migrate: Halle‘s Tran­que­bar mis­sion­ar­ies
Tobias Delfs, Berlin

2:30–3:30 pm

Ger­man sol­diers serv­ing in Africa and Asia c. 1750–1810
Michael Mann, Berlin

3:30 pm

Cof­fee & tea

4:00–5:00 pm

Ger­mans and the slave trade: the case of the Dutch East India Com­pa­ny in India
Matthias van Rossum/Alexander Gee­len, Ams­ter­dam

6:00–7:00 pm

Book pre­sen­ta­tion: Ravi Ahuja/Martin Christoph-Füch­sle (eds.): A Great War in South India. Ger­man Accounts of the Anglo-Mysore Wars, 1766–1799. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019
KWZ 0.602, Hein­rich-Dük­er-Weg 14, 37073 Göt­tin­gen

8:00 pm

Din­ner

Friday, 13.12.2019

Worldviews and life circles in India

9:45 am

Cof­fee & tea

10:00–11:00 am

Ger­man Jesuits in Ambal­akad: An exam­ple of catholic mis­sion in the 18th cen­tu­ry
Julia Led­er­le-Wint­gens, Düs­sel­dorf

11:00–12:00 pm

Aspects and Prospects of Death
Key­van Dja­hangiri, Berlin

12:00–1:00 pm

Gen­der, caste and gen­er­a­tion: Local women and chil­dren with­in the Dan­ish-Halle mis­sion in South India (1706–1845)
Heike Liebau, Berlin

12:30 pm

Lunch

Careers of physicians, craftsmen and Artists

2:00–3:00 pm

 

Incon­spic­u­ous col­o­niz­ers: Ger­man physi­cians in the 18th Cen­tu­ry Dan­ish East Indies and beyond
Niklas Thode Jensen, Copen­hagen

3:00–4:00 pm

Mora­vian crafts­men and their pro­fes­sion­al engage­ment in the nat­ur­al his­to­ry of India
Thomas Ruh­land, Halle

4:00–5:00 pm

Ger­man and North Euro­pean painters in India: Carl von Imhoff, Johann Zof­fany and Peter Anker. Career strat­e­gy and artis­tic pas­sion
Mar­tin Krieger, Kiel

Workshop Abstracts

The work­shop abstracts can be down­loaded as PDF file here.

Germans in 18th Century India: A Social History of Everyday Life

Ger­mans were already involved in the Euro­pean colo­nial 15th and 16th cen­tu­ry expan­sion into Asia: trad­ing com­pa­nies such as the Welser and Fug­ger sup­port­ed the Por­tuguese finan­cial­ly and from 1502/03 onwards, Ger­mans took a part in it direct­ly. With the emer­gence of the var­i­ous East India com­pa­nies, this devel­op­ment inten­si­fied, and it was in the 18th cen­tu­ry that numer­ous Ger­mans moved to India. They did not only work as mer­chants, sol­diers or sailors, but also as mis­sion­ar­ies, nat­u­ral­ists, crafts­men, phar­ma­cists, doc­tors or as painters–and even in the ser­vice of Indi­an princes. The tran­si­tions, how­ev­er, could be flu­ent if, for instance, a  mis­sion­ary act­ed at the same time as a mer­chant, crafts­man, teacher or nat­ur­al sci­en­tist, or if doc­tors, mis­sion­ar­ies or phar­ma­cists took up botaniz­ing. There were also real sur­vivors with con­sid­er­able social mobil­i­ty, per­form­ing dif­fer­ent jobs at dif­fer­ent times.

The work­shop will com­par­a­tive­ly address this pre­vi­ous­ly neglect­ed diver­si­ty through group analy­ses or case stud­ies. It will deal (1) with trav­el moti­va­tions, with the process of recruit­ing in Europe, with indi­vid­ual images of India and the demand for cer­tain pro­fes­sion­al groups. In addi­tion, it (2) will turn to the social strat­i­fi­ca­tions them­selves. In this con­text, it will inves­ti­gate the ques­tion of dif­fer­ences to Europe and the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of dis­tinc­tions between pro­fes­sion­al groups, class­es, “nations” or with regard to the Indi­en pop­u­la­tion of the time. Fur­ther­more, the work­shop (3) will shed a light on con­crete liv­ing con­di­tions, sub­jec­tive per­cep­tions and expe­ri­ences in India and will com­pare these with the ini­tial expec­tant atti­tude of a stay. Pos­si­ble top­ics would be respec­tive forms of cop­ing strate­gies of Ger­mans and oth­er Euro­peans and their reac­tions to polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic and social changes and cat­a­stro­phes such as wars or famines. All of this rais­es the ques­tion of the extent to which Ger­man archives and sources can widen the view of his­to­ri­ans deal­ing with the his­to­ry of 18th cen­tu­ry India.

Indian society in the eighteenth century through a German lens

Chen Tzoref-Ashke­nazi, Berlin

Peter Joseph du Plat was a young offi­cer sent to India with the 15th Hanover­ian reg­i­ment in 1782 as part of the Hanover­ian aux­il­iary troops in the sec­ond Anglo-Mysore War. In March 1784 he wrote a let­ter to a rel­a­tive in Ger­many, whose man­u­script is locat­ed in two Ger­man archives, in Hanover and Pots­dam. The let­ter nar­rates the course of the mil­i­tary events in which the Hanover­ian expe­di­tion par­tic­i­pat­ed and sup­plies a descrip­tion of the con­di­tions under which the Hanover­ian sol­diers lived in addi­tion to a short descrip­tion of Indi­an soci­ety. The man­u­script is part of a sig­nif­i­cant cor­pus of ego-doc­u­ments by Hanover­ian offi­cers, some of which were pub­lished at the time while oth­ers are kept in Ger­man archives in man­u­script form, that com­bine nar­ra­tions of mil­i­tary events with descrip­tions of Indi­an soci­ety. As the analy­sis of the text will show, sim­i­lar to oth­er Ger­man texts, du Plats under­stand­ing of Indi­an soci­ety was unsys­tem­at­ic, draw­ing on a com­bi­na­tion of notions brought from Europe, British inter­pre­ta­tions sup­plied by EIC and roy­al offi­cers who had come ear­li­er to India, infor­ma­tion sup­plied by Ger­man mis­sion­ar­ies, and his own per­son­al expe­ri­ence. It is not easy to dis­tin­guish between these sources of influ­ence. The out­come, how­ev­er, is marked­ly dif­fer­ent from offi­cial British rep­re­sen­ta­tions of India. While obvi­ous­ly writ­ten from a Euro­pean per­spec­tive, it does not always lend itself to the ser­vice of a colo­nial ide­ol­o­gy. On the oth­er hand, it is equal­ly impos­si­ble to speak of a uni­fied Ger­man per­spec­tive. The texts writ­ten by Hanover­ian offi­cers reflect a vari­ety of indi­vid­ual per­spec­tives that are not always eas­i­ly dis­tin­guish­able from sim­i­lar British texts that did not serve explic­it offi­cial or ide­o­log­i­cal pur­pos­es. It is, how­ev­er, jus­ti­fied to con­sid­er the Ger­man texts, both by offi­cers and by mis­sion­ar­ies, as out­siders’ per­spec­tives, because their authors did not, or only par­tial­ly belonged to the colo­nial estab­lish­ment, and felt much less com­mit­ted to its cause than British authors usu­al­ly did. As such, they enrich our under­stand­ing of Euro­pean per­cep­tions of and respons­es to Indi­an soci­ety beyond the much more often used reser­voir of British texts.

Motivations to migrate: Halle’s Tranquebar Missionaries

Tobias Delfs, Berlin

Mis­sion­ar­ies played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the Euro­pean colo­nial expan­sion. In the case of eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry India, it was main­ly the mis­sion­ar­ies of the Dan­ish-Eng­lish-Halle mis­sion, most of whom came from Ger­many and where cho­sen by the Francke Foun­da­tions in Halle. While above all the old­er mis­sion­ary his­to­ri­og­ra­phy often por­trayed them as being dri­ven sole­ly by mis­sion­ary zeal, this paper ques­tions such an assump­tion. It will exam­ine pos­si­ble fur­ther moti­va­tions of the can­di­dates. On the basis of their per­son­al his­to­ry, their appli­ca­tion doc­u­ments, the inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the mis­sion cen­tres, between the mis­sion­ar­ies them­selves and between the mis­sion­ar­ies and the cen­tres, it is exam­ined whether spe­cif­ic images of India, career aspi­ra­tions, lack­ing career prospects or con­crete prob­lems in Europe could be sig­nif­i­cant motives for the appli­ca­tion. The paper looks at accept­ed as well as reject­ed can­di­dates, the mis­sion head­quar­ters’ rea­sons for accep­tance and rejec­tion, as well as the dis­crep­an­cies between mis­sion­ary expec­ta­tions and expe­ri­ences in India.

German soldiers serving in Africa and Asia c. 1750–1820

Michael Mann, Berlin

Sol­diers recruit­ed from cen­tral Euro­pean coun­tries, or Deutsch­land, as con­tem­po­raries called the region, were part of a pan-Euro­pean labour mar­ket in the long eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry. In the ear­ly mod­ern peri­od Ger­man sol­diers served in the armies of Euro­pean mon­archs and transcon­ti­nen­tal­ly oper­at­ing trad­ing com­pa­nies such as the Vereenigde Oost­indis­che Com­pag­nie (VOC) and the East India Com­pa­ny (EIC). In addi­tion, Ger­man princes hired out their armies or parts of their troops to cre­ate addi­tion­al income and to par­tic­i­pate in Euro­pean pol­i­tics. In the sec­ond half of the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry, west­ern Euro­pean con­ti­nen­tal and inter­con­ti­nen­tal colo­nial war­fare in Amer­i­ca, Africa and Asia caused a huge demand for addi­tion­al troops. Many of them were recruit­ed on the Ger­man labour mar­kets. The paper will ask in how far becom­ing a sol­dier, whether serv­ing in or out­side Europe, was one of the many options men of dif­fer­ent social back­grounds had try­ing to over­come dire eco­nom­ic con­di­tions (pau­peri­sa­tion) in Ger­many. The paper will also ask whether becom­ing a sol­dier was part of a labour mar­ket based on var­i­ous forms of depen­dent labour, be that slav­ery, serf­dom, servi­tude, or sol­diery. Like sevi­tude, for exam­ple, pre­cur­sor of inden­tured labour sys­tems of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, the labour of com­mon sol­diers was organ­ised through con­tracts fix­ing terms of ser­vice includ­ing pay, dura­tion and work­ing con­di­tions.

Germans and the slave trade: the case of the Dutch East India Company in India

Alexan­der Gee­len and Matthias van Rossum, Ams­ter­dam

This paper will explore the role and par­tic­i­pa­tion in the slave trade by Ger­mans in the ser­vice of the Dutch East India Com­pa­ny. Slav­ery and slave trade was wide­spread through­out the VOC-empire, lead­ing to the coerced cir­cu­la­tion of enslaved peo­ple from South Asia, South­east Asia, East Africa and Mada­gas­car to and from dif­fer­ent VOC-set­tle­ments. The Com­pa­ny was heav­i­ly involved in orga­niz­ing the insti­tu­tion of slav­ery, and reg­u­lat­ing and admin­is­trat­ing the slave trade. Although the VOC also owned and trans­port­ed slaves, most slave trade was under­tak­en by the Euro­pean, Asian and Eurasian sub­jects and per­son­nel of the Com­pa­ny. Employ­ees from Ger­man speak­ing regions were recruit­ed, and climbed, in impor­tant num­bers into the low­er and mid­dle ranks of the VOC. There they worked as sol­diers, sailors, writ­ers, mer­chants and even min­ing spe­cial­ists. This paper explores the par­tic­i­pa­tion in the slave trade by these Ger­man VOC-employ­ees work­ing in the VOC-set­tle­ments on the Mal­abar coast, espe­cial­ly Cochin (present-day Kochi, Ker­ala). This paper will use data­bas­es of slave trans­ac­tions (Acten van Trans­port) and per­mits for export (Per­missies) pre­served for eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry Cochin in the VOC-archives, and will con­tex­tu­al­ize its find­ings with infor­ma­tion in court records, per­son­nel admin­is­tra­tion, tes­ti­monies, and oth­er sources. Explor­ing the slave trade and con­nec­tions of Ger­man Com­pa­ny per­son­nel in India can help fur­ther uncov­er the over­seas expe­ri­ence of this often over­looked group.

German Jesuits in Ambalakad: An example of Catholic mission in 18th century Southern India

Julia Led­er­le-Wint­gens, Düs­sel­dorf

In their world-wide activ­i­ties, the Jesuit order that was found­ed in 1540 soon became influ­en­tial and pow­er­ful. Being a per­fect­ly linked and high­ly mobile order, the Jesuits were able to build a unique net­work of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trans­fer. In India, the Soci­ety of Jesus relied on its exclu­sive rela­tion­ship with the Por­tuguese crown for a long time. By the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry, how­ev­er, Por­tu­gal was not able to pro­tect and sup­port the Jesuit mis­sion sta­tions out­side of Goa any­more. Accord­ing­ly, the dom­i­nance of Por­tuguese mem­bers with­in the order dimin­ished, too. In this con­text, the Col­legium Max­i­mum of Ambal­akad became an inter­est­ing, but neglect­ed, case of Jesuit act­ing in South­ern India. A small group of mixed Euro­pean Jesuits tried to become influ­en­tial inter­me­di­aries. Focus­ing on the role of the Ger­man Jesuits of Ambal­akad may illu­mi­nate these new ways of Jesuit mis­sion in eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry India.

Aspects and Prospects of Death

Key­van Dja­hangiri, Berlin

The Luther­an Mission’s pres­ence at the Dan­ish sea­port of Tha­rangam­ba­di in today’s Tamil Nadu State is wide­ly known and well-stud­ied. How­ev­er, reg­u­lar­ly occur­ring but mar­gin­al­ly stud­ied social life phe­nom­e­na, such as the deal­ing with death and dying, bid us to revis­it source doc­u­ments and dig for hid­den pat­terns and buried pro­ce­dures of every­day life his­to­ry. The paper’s lead­ing ques­tion, there­fore, is what All­t­ags­geschichte can and can­not tell us about dif­fer­ent cul­tures cohab­it­ing and inter­act­ing over a long peri­od, such as the eigh­teenth-cen­tu­ry mul­ti-lay­ered South Asian pow­er shifts. Nat­u­ral­ly, the ques­tion also address­es the pos­si­bil­i­ties and lim­i­ta­tions of mis­sion­ary reports. Dig­ging into the men­tioned sources the paper seeks to test two hypothe­ses: (1) Funer­als as a cul­tur­al prac­tice cre­ate iden­ti­ty and a sense of pur­pose. As with all cul­tur­al and social prac­tices, the aware­ness of their indis­pens­abil­i­ty and the con­vic­tion for their performance’s neces­si­ty are extra­or­di­nar­i­ly strength­ened, when they are to be pre­served in a for­eign, inse­cure or even hos­tile envi­ron­ment. The same applies if cul­tur­al prac­tices pre­serve and serve to delim­i­tate and safe­guard the own com­mu­ni­ty against oth­er cul­tures and reli­gions. (2) Funer­al rit­u­als are a con­ve­nient and cohe­sive instru­ment of demon­strat­ing and dis­ci­plin­ing one­self (in front of oth­ers) – con­sid­er­ing in par­tic­u­lar its ref­er­ence to after­life and the fact that a cul­tur­al trans­fer of these prac­tices is intend­ed or takes place.

Gender, Caste and Generation: Local Women and Children within the Danish-Halle Mission in South India (1706–1845)

Heike Liebau, Berlin

When we explore the day-to-day prac­tices at Chris­t­ian mis­sion sta­tions, fam­i­ly life can­not be ignored. Although Mis­sion his­to­ry has turned towards social his­to­ry, includ­ing fam­i­ly his­to­ry, research so far has most­ly focused on the life of European/American women with regard to the suc­cess of the mis­sion and their social role with­in. Authors aim at chal­leng­ing the notion of the mar­gin­al­i­ty of women argu­ing against reduc­ing their role to lov­ing wives, car­ing moth­ers and friend­ly teach­ers. In con­trast, my paper draws atten­tion to local women and chil­dren of local mis­sion work­ers in the con­text of the Dan­ish-Halle Mis­sion in the 18th, ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry. It explores social struc­tures with­in the mis­sion con­text, such as: a) the pro­fes­sion­al posi­tions of local women (as domes­tic ser­vants; bible women, teach­ers, or cat­e­chists), b) their posi­tion with­in the fam­i­ly, includ­ing their role as wives or wid­ows of local male mis­sion work­ers (co-work­ing with their part­ners; con­tin­u­ing the work after their hus­bands´ death) and c) laws and reg­u­la­tions for female mis­sion work­ers (pay­ment, wid­ow sup­port). With regard to local chil­dren, espe­cial­ly chil­dren of local mis­sion work­ers, I will explore the impor­tance of inter-mis­sion mar­riages and the pro­mo­tion of “promis­ing” chil­dren through a spe­cial sys­tem of spon­sor­ship. Con­cep­tu­al­ly, I will sit­u­ate my obser­va­tions with­in broad­er debates on gen­der, caste and gen­er­a­tion.

Inconspicuous Colonizers: German physicians in the 18th century Danish East Indies and beyond

Niklas Thode Jensen, Copen­hagen

For Euro­peans trav­el­ling to and liv­ing in 18th cen­tu­ry India, the risk of fatal dis­ease was a fun­da­men­tal part of every­day life. Con­se­quent­ly, Euro­pean trad­ing com­pa­nies and colo­nial pow­ers employed sur­geons and doc­tors to take care of their staff on board the ships bound for the East and in their colonies. In the Dan­ish East India Com­pa­nies and roy­al admin­is­tra­tion of the East Indies, the major­i­ty of the physi­cians were Ger­mans. Fur­ther­more, the mis­sion doc­tors of the Dan­ish-Halle mis­sion and Mora­vian mis­sion in Tran­que­bar were also Ger­mans. In the pre­sen­ta­tion, I will focus on this group of Ger­man physi­cians in Dan­ish ser­vice in India and beyond. Since they have nev­er been stud­ied as a group, I will begin with a sur­vey of their ori­gins, career paths etc. to iden­ti­fy com­mon pat­ters and char­ac­ter­is­tics. On this basis, I will inves­ti­gate two case stud­ies that demon­strate some of the chal­lenges faced by this group and their strate­gies for cop­ing with them. The first case is Samuel Ben­jamin Knoll (1705–67, in India 1732–67), doc­tor of the Dan­ish-Halle mis­sion in Tran­que­bar. A clos­er study of his life and work reveals the dif­fi­cul­ties of mak­ing a liv­ing as a physi­cian in colo­nial India and prob­lems of pro­fes­sion­al rival­ry between Euro­pean and Indi­an doc­tors. The sec­ond case is Johann Ger­hard König (1728–85, in India 1768–85), doc­tor of the Dan­ish-Halle Mis­sion in Tran­que­bar, Roy­al Dan­ish botan­i­cal col­lec­tor and lat­er nat­ur­al his­to­ry col­lec­tor for the Nawab of Arcot and the British East India Com­pa­ny. König’s life reveals the impor­tance of net­works, mobil­i­ty and being a ‘neu­tral for­eign­er’ in colo­nial India.

Moravian craftsmen and their professional engagement in the natural history of India

Thomas Ruh­land, Halle

The var­i­ous forms of mis­sion­ary activ­i­ty in India dif­fered from one anoth­er not only accord­ing to the con­fes­sion and the polit­i­cal alle­giances of the mis­sion­ar­ies and their wives and chil­dren, but also in the ways in which mis­sion­ary com­mu­ni­ties were financed. Mem­bers of the Mora­vian South Asia Mis­sion (1760–1802), for exam­ple, unlike the Jesuits or the mem­bers of the Dan­ish-Eng­lish-Halle Mis­sion, for the most part need­ed to cov­er their own liv­ing expens­es by them­selves. In doing so, they relied not only on agri­cul­tur­al and crafts­men skills and on their crafts­men skills, but also on an exten­sive trade in nat­ur­al spec­i­mens such as plants, shells, crabs, and rep­tiles. These nat­ur­al objects were pre­pared and con­served in a vari­ety of ways and were then made avail­able for sale with­in India and in Europe. For some time, this activ­i­ty could ensure the prin­ci­pal source of income for the “Brethren’s Gar­den” near Tran­que­bar and the mis­sion on the Nico­bar Islands. In pro­duc­ing these objects, the Mora­vian mis­sion­ar­ies (usu­al­ly them­selves crafts­men such as cob­blers and car­pen­ters) worked close­ly with native peo­ple, who served as infor­mants and helpers in the pro­cess­ing and nam­ing of the nat­ur­al spec­i­mens. My pre­sen­ta­tion will explain this prac­tice, hith­er­to sel­dom explored in the mis­sion­ary con­text, and will clar­i­fy the motives behind the col­lec­tion of nat­ur­al objects as well as the prob­lems and oth­er con­se­quences. These includ­ed the new­ly result­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for Euro­peans and Indige­nous to find employ­ment with the (British) East India Com­pa­ny, as well as the effects on Indi­an employ­ees of the Mora­vians such as Krish­na Pal, who, after work­ing with the Mora­vian mis­sion­ar­ies in the field of nat­ur­al his­to­ry, became the first con­vert of the Bap­tist Mis­sion­ary Soci­ety under W. Carey.

German and North European painters in India: Carl von Imhoff, Johann Zoffany and Peter Anker. Career strategy and artistic passion

Mar­tin Krieger, Kiel

Dur­ing the lat­ter half of the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry, a colo­nial art-mar­ket emerged in India. Notably Cal­cut­ta with its abun­dance of finan­cial wealth attract­ed artists from Great Britain and beyond. The col­lec­tion of oil paint­ings and draw­ings pre­served inside the Vic­to­ria Memo­r­i­al at Cal­cut­ta still bears wit­ness to this fact. A num­ber of Ger­man and North Euro­pean artists joined this trend and estab­lished their work­shops in India. The Ger­mans Carl von Imhoff and Johann Zof­fany as well as the Nor­we­gian Peter Anker ren­der promi­nent exam­ples and will be stud­ied in detail here. Their social back­ground, edu­ca­tion and moti­va­tion for trav­el­ling to India will be scru­ti­nized. Fur­ther­more, it will be asked: To what degree did their activ­i­ties in India con­tribute to enhanc­ing their careers? Imhoff’s, Zoffany’s and Anker’s artis­tic oeu­vre simul­ta­ne­ous­ly played a role in cre­at­ing a dis­tinct image of India in Ger­many and North­ern Europe. Against this back­drop, this paper will simul­ta­ne­ous­ly ask for their impact on shap­ing con­tem­po­rary ideas of India in Weimar, Copen­hagen and oth­er cul­tur­al cen­tres.