My habilitation project deals with the participation of German and German botanists in the imperial penetration of the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century through the generation of knowledge and imperial environmental discourses. The study period covers the timeframe between the Congress of Vienna and the beginning of German colonialism in the 1870s. This was a time when the German states were still without a German unitary state and without own colonies. Nevertheless, German-speaking botanists and naturalists participated in the empire of knowledge at that time, benefited from its collections and international exchanges, contributed their own collections, consciously or unconsciously, created, with their expertise and their classifications, the colonial ecosystem management and ultimately the exploitation of the environment. The actors concerned could be local amateurs as well as researchers resident in Germany. University professors participated as well as missionaries, doctors, pharmacists or explorers.
The project addresses the following questions: 1.) Which actors and which institutions were involved and how? In addition to the botanists themselves, the botanical gardens and the scientific societies, for example, played an important role as interfaces in the botanical network, especially by promoting national and international exchanges, awarding prizes and honors, promoting careers, funding research or writing instructions. 2.) Were there political or colonial interests in politics in German-speaking countries? Did such interests affect botany? These questions also concern, for example, the funding of research and the clients. 3.) How did natural research in German-speaking countries and its relationship to the colonial powers look like? Was there direct contact? There are also 4) social-historical questions about the supporting groups and strata, especially among the German botanical suppliers in India, their origin, interests and motivations. Who supported them locally? And finally 5.): Was there a German network within botany or was it mainly international cooperation? How did the network work in practice? In this regard, South Africa, for example, is to be examined as the central hub for the exchange between India and Europe.