I. Concluding Remarks

After nine years of work­ing togeth­er and on the cusp of our final fund­ing peri­od, it seems appro­pri­ate to look back at the road already travelled.

In Novem­ber 2014 a ded­i­cat­ed team of stu­dents, coor­di­na­tors, prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tors, and our inno­v­a­tive tan­dem-duos, team­ing up Indi­an and Ger­man pre- and post-docs, began with the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and descrip­tion of archival hold­ings stored in Ger­man archives that are of inter­est to the his­to­ri­an of mod­ern India and/or Indo-Ger­man entan­gled his­to­ry. With the launch of the MIDA web­site in May 2019, this grow­ing dataset could be accessed through our data­base, accom­pa­nied by our open-access jour­nal MIDA Archival Reflex­i­con. The Reflex­i­con – as we affec­tion­ate­ly call it – cre­ates a space for con­tem­plat­ing the method­olog­i­cal and epis­te­mo­log­i­cal ques­tions that arise from work­ing with these under­es­ti­mat­ed resources, which are housed in archives not com­mon­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the col­o­niza­tion of the sub­con­ti­nent, whilst show­ing the poten­tial of con­crete archival hold­ings with spe­cif­ic the­mat­ic examples.

Soon there­after it became clear that anoth­er medi­um was need­ed to ade­quate­ly dis­play research data emerg­ing from the project, which did not fit the frame­work of the data­base or the Reflex­i­con, but was too pre­cious to just keep in our dig­i­tal draw­ers – lead­ing to the birth of the MIDA The­mat­ic Resources. Through this for­mat, we pub­lish data sets in a pag­i­nat­ed pdf ver­sion, which can be cit­ed, as well as a spread­sheet file, which can be sort­ed, searched through, and analysed fur­ther. Georg Lilie’s list shows the true poten­tial of the for­mat to open up the field for sev­er­al pos­si­ble research projects, by list­ing a large amount of valu­able fun­da­men­tal research on the exchange between trade unions of India and the GDR. Ger­di­en Jonker’s 2021 Post­script to her Reflex­i­con entry orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished two years pri­or on the oth­er hand demon­strates the advan­tage of pub­lish­ing online, name­ly the pos­si­bil­i­ty to update and expand upon ear­li­er work and even open­ing up a dia­logue with one’s readers.

Guid­ed by the the­mat­ic sign­posts intel­lec­tu­al, polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, and mis­sion his­to­ry, the work on the data­base and the two pub­li­ca­tion series and the indi­vid­ual projects with­in our tan­dem-duos expand­ed into numer­ous work­shops, con­fer­ences, lec­tures, sem­i­nars, mis­cel­la­neous pub­li­ca­tions and even a fea­ture-length film, there­by exem­pli­fy­ing the vast­ness of this often untouched source base. And aside all the knowl­edge pro­duc­tion and trans­fer the team grew togeth­er and stayed in con­tact, across the dis­tance between our two seats Berlin and Göt­tin­gen and often beyond one’s time in the project, with the high­light being the ear­ly morn­ing walks and late-night chats dur­ing our aca­d­e­m­ic retreats in our beloved Akademie Wald­schlöss­chen near Göttingen.

II. Knowledge Transfer and Accessibility

Three fund­ing peri­ods after the begin­ning in 2014, BAs turned into MAs, pre- into post-docs, and the data­base has grown to now con­tain 88 archives and 2710 hold­ings. With the relaunch of our web pres­ence in 2023, the MIDA pub­li­ca­tions team put its focus even more on reach­ing a wider and more diverse audi­ence and mak­ing our pub­li­ca­tions work for our read­ers as well as our authors.

To broad­en our reach, we have teamed up with the Max Weber Forum Del­hi and have repub­lished all our arti­cles and research data col­lec­tions via the Max Weber Foundation’s dig­i­tal repos­i­to­ry Perspectivia.net in the tried and trust­ed for­mats MIDA Archival Reflex­i­con and MIDA The­matic Resources. The pub­li­ca­tions now all car­ry a DOI and are trans­mit­ted into a wide net­work of open-access data­bas­es and aca­d­e­m­ic search engines via perspectivia.net. The licens­ing of the pub­li­ca­tions with CC-BY-ND 4.0 guar­an­tees the open-access nature which was at the core of the MIDA pub­lish­ing con­cept from the very begin­ning as well as our authors’ rights to be giv­en appro­pri­ate cred­it when their work is shared. In addi­tion, our pub­li­ca­tions team tire­less­ly adds find­ings from our pub­li­ca­tions into rel­e­vant Wikipedia-arti­cles, there­by con­tribut­ing to the spread of aca­d­e­m­ic results whilst height­en­ing the projects vis­i­bil­i­ty in the pub­lic arena.

Look­ing at the over­hauled web­site itself, the min­i­mal and respon­sive design of the HTML ver­sion of our arti­cles enables com­fort­able access even with slow­er inter­net con­nec­tions and on all stan­dard mobile devices. The down­load­able PDF ver­sions allow track­ing one’s own thoughts ­– dig­i­tal­ly or on the paper – and have been opti­mized for screen read­ers in an effort to reduce the lim­i­ta­tions one’s eyes can pose on the gath­er­ing of infor­ma­tion in a most­ly text based aca­d­e­m­ic dis­course. With one of the ele­ments of this task being the descrip­tion of visu­al sources (i.e. pho­tographs, scanned doc­u­ments) dis­played in the arti­cle, a seem­ing­ly tech­ni­cal task turned into a sur­pris­ing­ly cre­ative one. To light­en this load for the pub­lish­ing team we kind­ly ask authors of future pub­li­ca­tions to include detailed descrip­tions of the visu­al mate­r­i­al they want to use in their articles.

Our heart­felt thanks go to:

  • Sebas­t­ian Schwecke (Max Weber Forum Del­hi) as well as Michael Kaiser, Katrin Neu­mann, Maria Wiegel, and Julian Schulz (Max Weber Stiftung / perspectivia.net) for their coop­er­a­tion and sup­port in bring­ing the Archival Reflex­i­con and The­mat­ic Resources to the next lev­el of aca­d­e­m­ic publishing,
  • Peter Albertz and Mari­na Lemaire (Ser­vice­cen­ter eSciences, Uni­ver­sität Tri­er) for their con­tin­u­ing sup­port in main­tain­ing and improv­ing our web presence,
  • Mon­ja Hof­mann, the mas­ter­mind behind MIDA’s web pres­ence and pub­lish­ing lay­outs, for her years of superb dili­gent tech­ni­cal and cre­ative work,

and to the entire MIDA team, our aca­d­e­m­ic advi­so­ry board, and extend­ed MIDA net­work for all the progress made, insights gained, and heart­felt laughs found along the way.

III. A call to action

Look­ing for­ward, we see the tran­si­tion into the final fund­ing peri­od as an invi­ta­tion and call to action to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly con­clude, order, and opti­mise the data we already have gath­ered, while still explor­ing new threads and show­ing where this and sim­i­lar projects could lead if pur­sued fur­ther. One of those threads is our Read­ing Day which is reg­u­lar­i­ly held since April 2023. By engag­ing with dif­fer­ent writ­ings on post­colo­nialsm, we aim to embed MIDA in the larg­er debate on Germany’s (post)coloniality and enrich it by scru­ti­niz­ing Indo-Ger­man rela­tions. On the basis of these read­ing forums, we are devel­op­ing a con­fer­ence in 2025 pro­vi­sion­al­ly enti­tled “The Long His­to­ry of Ger­man Involve­ment in the Euro­pean Colo­nial Project: Per­spec­tives from India”.

But we also want to frame this last leg of the jour­ney as an invi­ta­tion and call to action to our con­trib­u­tors and read­ers, who can active­ly sup­port our efforts by sup­ply­ing rel­e­vant Wikipedia-arti­cles, descrip­tions of visu­al sources, or even leads to new archives for our data­base or data sets for one of our The­mat­ic Resources – and last­ly with new fas­ci­nat­ing arti­cles or lists for our pub­li­ca­tion series.

To kick-off this process we are plan­ning a con­fer­ence con­cep­tu­al­ly akin to the Reflex­i­con, which will be held in Sep­tem­ber 2024 at the Leib­niz-Zen­trum Mod­ern­er Ori­ent. Fur­ther infor­ma­tion will follow.