Project Partners

  • Prof. Dr. Ravi Ahu­ja, Cen­tre for Mod­ern Indi­an Stud­ies, Georg-August-Uni­ver­sität Göttingen
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Mann, Insti­tute for Asian and African Stud­ies, Hum­boldt-Uni­ver­sität zu Berlin
  • Dr. Heike Liebau, Leib­niz-Zen­trum Mod­ern­er Ori­ent (ZMO)

Fund­ing: Ger­man Research Coun­cil (DFG)

Dura­tion: Nov. 2014 to Oct. 2026 (first fund­ing peri­od: Nov. 2014 to Oct. 2017)

Project Summary

The rich­ness and the poten­tial of the hold­ings of Ger­man archives on mod­ern Indi­an his­to­ry has been appre­ci­at­ed insuf­fi­cient­ly so far. To the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty of his­to­ri­ans of India, these resources can open up new research per­spec­tives that have remained obstruct­ed by an exces­sive fix­a­tion on British colo­nial archives. At the same time, inno­v­a­tive research ques­tions can be gen­er­at­ed for pur­pos­es of transna­tion­al his­tor­i­cal com­par­i­son and for the his­tor­i­cal analy­sis of “glob­al­iza­tion” process­es through an explo­ration of the mod­ern his­to­ry of Ger­man-Indi­an entanglements.

More­over, the result­ing twofold widen­ing of research per­spec­tives cre­ates new chances for a more inten­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tion and coop­er­a­tion between Indi­an and Ger­man tra­di­tions of his­tor­i­cal inquiry – tra­di­tions that have tak­en cog­nizance of each oth­er, so far, only to a very lim­it­ed extent. Through the fol­low­ing ini­tia­tives the long-term project “Mod­ern India in Ger­man Archives” (“Das Mod­erne Indi­en in deutschen Archiv­en”, MIDA) aims to pro­duce the nec­es­sary con­di­tions for this sub­stan­tial endeavour.

  • sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly col­lect in a sin­gle data­base cat­a­logue and key­word infor­ma­tion on hold­ings of Ger­man archives on mod­ern India and the his­to­ry of Ger­man-Indi­an entan­gle­ments, from the estab­lish­ment of the Dan­ish-Halle Mis­sion in South India (1706) up to the end of the polit­i­cal divi­sion of Ger­many (1989/90);
  • make avail­able this data­base to the inter­na­tion­al aca­d­e­m­ic com­mu­ni­ty on a long-term basis as a “grow­ing” and open dig­i­tal resource for the pur­pose of locat­ing spe­cif­ic archival material;
  • pro­vide the inter­na­tion­al aca­d­e­m­ic com­mu­ni­ty as well as a wider pub­lic with long-term access to a dig­i­tal archive guide, which will be derived from the data­base and suc­ces­sive­ly expand­ed in order to present an overview of the full the­mat­ic range of rel­e­vant collections;
  • demon­strate the poten­tial of Ger­man archival resources for India-relat­ed stud­ies in exem­plary pilot research projects and a cor­re­spond­ing pub­li­ca­tion series. This will encour­age a) a more intense uti­liza­tion of these archival hold­ings par­tic­u­lar­ly by Ger­man and Indi­an his­to­ri­ans and b) the shap­ing of the nec­es­sary mul­ti­lin­guis­tic and inter-region­al qual­i­fi­ca­tion profiles;
  • con­tribute to a sus­tained real­iza­tion of the goal that was for­mu­lat­ed on a bilat­er­al work­shop of the DFG and the Indi­an Coun­cil for His­tor­i­cal Research (ICHR) in Novem­ber 2012, name­ly the inten­si­fi­ca­tion of Ger­man-Indi­an research co-oper­a­tion in the Human Sci­ences. The Ger­man-Indi­an “tan­dem struc­ture” accord­ing to which the pilot projects have been designed will serve as a key instru­ment to achieve this aim.

Project Goals

An impor­tant goal of the long-term project “Mod­ern India in Ger­man Archives” (MIDA) is to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly record the con­tents of Ger­man archives on the his­to­ry of mod­ern India and the Ger­man-Indi­an his­to­ry of entan­gle­ments between 1706 and 1989/90 in a data­base and to make this data­base avail­able to inter­na­tion­al research.

Beyond this col­lec­tion of the rel­e­vant hold­ings, their pre­sen­ta­tion in a dig­i­tal archive guide ensures that this archive data is pre­sent­ed in a way that meets cur­rent and future research needs.

These research needs are shaped by the his­to­ri­o­graph­ic ten­den­cy towards transna­tion­al and trans ter­ri­to­r­i­al per­spec­tives. The MIDA project itself is an expres­sion of this increas­ing open­ing of the his­tor­i­cal sci­ences: sources of Mod­ern India in Ger­man archives, which so far had appeared as mar­gin­al to ear­li­er nation­al — but also colo­nial-his­tor­i­cal — con­tain­er per­spec­tives are only now becom­ing the focus of the inves­ti­ga­tion. Pre­vi­ous­ly, ter­ri­to­ri­al­ly defined per­spec­tives, whether that of a Ger­man nation­al his­to­ry or of a British-Indi­an colo­nial his­to­ri­og­ra­phy, were unable to iden­ti­fy source mate­r­i­al, the sig­nif­i­cance of which could only be seen in con­junc­tion with mate­ri­als that had emerged from oth­er ter­ri­to­r­i­al contexts.

Transna­tion­al and trans-ter­ri­to­r­i­al per­spec­tives ini­tial­ly focused on the his­to­ry of trans­fers or mutu­al recep­tion, i.e. they exam­ined bilat­er­al rela­tions or trans­fer axes that tran­scend­ed the ter­ri­to­r­i­al frame­work of nation­al or impe­r­i­al his­to­ri­ogra­phies. In the mean­time inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research approach­es are large­ly anchored in the human­i­ties, cul­tur­al and social his­to­ry, but also in post­colo­nial stud­ies, and Ger­man-Indi­an exchange rela­tions are exam­ined less along trans­fer axes than in larg­er inter­re­li­gious-his­tor­i­cal contexts.

If the his­to­ry of entan­gle­ments is well estab­lished in terms of con­tent, the method­olog­i­cal con­se­quences of this his­to­ri­o­graph­ic devel­op­ment, how­ev­er, seem to have been neglect­ed so far. If, for exam­ple, Indi­an and Ger­man his­tor­i­cal actors entered into com­plex exchange rela­tions that could not be reduced to bilat­er­al trans­fer axes medi­at­ed by ter­ri­to­r­i­al state insti­tu­tions, but were inte­grat­ed into exten­sive transna­tion­al net­works, what does this mean for the order of archives and the struc­tures of the archive? As a form of epis­te­mo­log­i­cal pow­er artic­u­la­tion from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives, the archive has become the sub­ject of intense philo­soph­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal reflec­tion. The close con­nec­tion between the log­ic of the archive and the insti­tu­tion­al log­ic of pow­er appa­ra­tus­es, espe­cial­ly of state (nation­al or impe­r­i­al) pow­er appa­ra­tus­es, is now open. How­ev­er, what con­se­quences does it have if, with­in the frame­work of the MIDA long-term project, we not only leave the con­cep­tu­al con­tain­ers of the ter­ri­to­r­i­al states with our research, but bring archival mate­ri­als into a new rela­tion­ship and in a cer­tain way pro­duce a new “meta-archive”?

The project intends to respond to these ques­tions by first tak­ing the archives as sin­gu­lar, insti­tu­tion­al­ly and ter­ri­to­ri­al­ly delim­it­ed repos­i­to­ries in the pre­sen­ta­tion of the inven­to­ries in the data­base and fol­low­ing their own log­ic. At the same time, how­ev­er, the goal of the project is to make the data vis­i­ble in a new way as a net­work of archives accord­ing to the research ques­tions and thus to reor­ga­nize “the archive” against insti­tu­tion­al and ter­ri­to­r­i­al logics.

Project Institutions

The project is based at three insti­tu­tions at two loca­tions, that is, Goet­tin­gen and Berlin:

Centre for Modern Indian Studies

Georg-August-Uni­ver­sität Göttingen

Wald­weg 26

Seminar für Südasienstudien

Insti­tut für Asien- und Afrikawis­senschaften
Hum­boldt-Uni­ver­sität zu Berlin

Unter den Linden6
D‑10099 Berlin

Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient

Kirch­weg 33
D‑14129 Berlin

Partner Institutions

Servicecenter eSciences, Universität Trier

The vir­tu­al research envi­ron­ment FuD employed in the project as well as the web­site of MIDA have been devel­oped by the Ser­vicezen­trum eSciences of Tri­er Uni­ver­si­ty and adapt­ed to the spe­cif­ic needs of MIDA in close coor­di­na­tion with the staff of the project.

Uni­ver­sität Tri­er
Ser­vicezen­trum eSciences
DM-Gebäude Post­fach DM26
54292 Tri­er

Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies, Delhi

The con­tri­bu­tions of the MIDA pub­li­ca­tions Archival Reflex­i­con and The­mat­ic Resources are being pub­lished and archived on, the pub­li­ca­tion plat­form of the Max Weber Stiftung (MWS). In addi­tion, it will be exam­ined to which extent the Max Weber Forum for South Asian Stud­ies (MWF) will take over the tech­ni­cal and orga­ni­za­tion­al main­te­nance of the data­base after the project ends.

Max Weber Forum for South Asian Stud­ies (MWF Del­hi)
53 Lodi Estate, Ground floor
Coun­cil for Social Devel­op­ment (CSD) Build­ing
K.K. Bir­la Lane, Adja­cent to UNDP
New Del­hi – 110003, India