Vanya Vaidehi Bhargav


Vanya Vaidehi Bhargav is an intellectual historian of modern India, with interests in Hindu nationalism and secular nationalism. Her DPhil research at the University of Oxford undertook the first systematic intellectual history of the ‘Hindu nationalist’ Lala Lajpat Rai (1865-1928), and is currently under revision for publication as a monograph. It aims to unveil the internally differentiated nature of Hindu political thinking. Bhargav is currently an affiliated Senior Research Fellow at the Multiple Secularities Research Group, Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies, University of Leipzig. Her next project seeks to recover the diverse discourses of secularism which wrestled with each other in colonial India, and continue to shape its contemporary politics.


Johannes Duschka

Johannes Duschka studied Political Science and Cultural Studies in Leipzig and Prague. After working in several administrative positions in academia, most notably as project coordinator of a German-Indonesian exchange program (2014-2016) and  as Administrative Coordinator of the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences “Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities” (2016-2020), he rejoined the CASHSS “Multiple Secularities” in April 2020 as a Junior Researcher to work on a dissertation project attempting a critical reconstruction of the works of Talal Asad.


Maria Framke

Maria Framke is a historian of modern South Asia, affiliated with the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin. Next to finishing her habilitation at the University Rostock, Germany, she works at the Central Editorial Department of H-Soz-Kult. Maria has researched and published on the history of international organizations, imperial and nationalist politics, humanitarianism, and international relations and ideologies in the 20th century. She received her doctorate from Jacobs University Bremen in 2011. Her book on the ‘Engagement with Italian Fascism and German National Socialism in India, 1922–1939’ was published in 2013 with the Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt. Her current research project focuses on ‘South Asian humanitarianism in armed conflicts, 1899–1945’ on which she has published ‘‘We must sent a gift worthy of India and the Congress!’: War and political humanitarianism in late colonial South Asia’, in: Modern Asian Studies in 2017. Her latest chapter analyzed ‘The politics of gender and community: non-governmental relief in late colonial and early postcolonial India’, published in 2020.



At the start of my academic career I studied Cuneiform, Hebrew, and History of Religions in Amsterdam and Paris and wrote a dissertation on the collective memory of Ancient Mesopotamia (The Topography of Remembrance. Leiden: Brill, 1995).

In the course of years, a large range of research projects was conducted that addressed the collective memory and long durée perceptions of religious minorities in Europe. In focus were orthodox Muslim communities as well as attempts at Muslim reform. Of the latter, Ahmadiyya mission in interwar Berlin served as a platform for the (religious) encounter of Indians and Germans (The Ahmadiyya Quest. Missionizing Europe 1900-1965. Leiden: Brill, 2016 and On the Margins. Jews and Muslims in Interwar Berlin. Leiden: Brill, 2020).

In the course of study, I dug out and safeguarded a number of registries of religious organizations, among them the mosque archive of the Ahmadiyya mosque in Berlin-Wilmersdorf and the archive of the Buddhist House in Berlin-Frohnau (Das Archiv des Buddhistischen Hauses in Berlin-Frohnau and Das Moscheearchiv in Berlin-Wilmersdorf).


Parveen Kanhai

Parveen Kanhai studied history at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. During an after her study she was a museum docent and teacher for several cultural institutions. While working in the ethnological museum of Rotterdam, she became interested in the representation of non-European people in the nineteenth century. Within this broad subject, she attempts to concentrate on human exhibitions, a subject that has received wide attention in Germany, France and Great Britain. For this purpose, she tries to locate photographs, advertisments and newspaper reports in (mainly digital) archives.


Rinku Lamba

Rinku Lamba is assistant professor at the Centre for Political Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University, where she teaches political theory. She was educated in Delhi, Oxford and Toronto.  She has a strong interest in modern Indian political thought, democratic theory, and in the doctrines of liberalism, secularism and multiculturalism. Her published work includes essays on themes such as state power and nationalism, and understandings of religion in the political thought of M K Gandhi and B R Ambedkar. She has held research fellowships in Italy, Germany, Canada and Australia, and has been a visiting professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin and the University of Wurzburg. She is presently completing a book manuscript that probes the resources of bhakti and modern Indian political thought to highlight the culture of democracy in India. 


Tirtha Prasad Mukhopadhyay 

Tirtha Prasad Mukhopadhyay is Professor at the Department of Art and Enterprise, Universidad de Guanajuato, Mexico. He is multi-disciplinary scholar who has published books and articles on a wide range of topics including cognition and aesthetics, digital art, visual anthropology and religion. His articles have been published from the MIT Press, Atelier-Etno UISSP-CISENP, Italy, and numerous magazines in USA, Mexico and India, as well as in proceedings of prestigious international conferences like Digital Humanities, ISEA and the Computer Arts Congress. Mukhopadhyay’s doctoral dissertation titled Affective States in Art is now available as a Proquest-UMI Paperback on Google Books. Besides having taught in both undergraduate and graduate levels in a career spanning over three continents Mukhopadhyay is also a poet in the Bengali language. He has also been Chief Editor of a Scopus indexed interdisciplinary journal since 2009. He is the editor of Glimpse, journal of the Society for Phenomenology and MediaCalifornia.


Sushmita Nath

Sushmita Nath is a senior fellow at the CASHSS Multiple Secularities, Leipzig University, where she is working on the conception of secularity in modern India, with a focus on the Gandhi-Nehru tradition. She earned her PhD in 2018 at the Centre for Political Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research areas include Indian Political Thought and Indian politics, religion and political thought, comparative political theory, and intellectual history. She has published on themes relating to secularism and modern Indian political thought in various journals like the Studies in Religion, ASIEN, and Südasien-Chronik. Presently, she is working on her first book manuscript on the Gandhi-Nehru tradition of secularity, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press.




Baijayanti Roy studied Indian and European history in India. She completed her Masters from the University of Calcutta. She received her PhD from Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, in 2014. Her dissertation has been published as a monograph titled “The making of a Gentleman Nazi: Albert Speer`s Politics of History in the Federal Republic of Germany” (2016).  From 2015, she has been working with Prof Dr. Moritz Epple (AG-Wissenschaftsgechichte or History of Sciences at the Goethe University) in developing a project on “Indology in National Socialist Germany,” which is being supported by the DFG since 2018. Baijayanti is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher in this project. She aims to write a monograph on the basis of her research.

Apart from history of Nazi Germany and German Indology, Baijayanti`s research interests include historical connections between Germany and India as well as the development of Hindu nationalist politics in India. She has written a number of articles on these subjects for different international publications. These articles cover a wide spectrum – from the German scholar and Veda expert Max Müller, to the perceptions of history in Bollywood films, to the voyeuristic attractions of Hitler`s tea house in the Bavarian Alps. Her latest publication is on the Indologist Heinrich Zimmer`s escape from Nazi Germany.

Baijayanti has also lectured at various international conferences and Universities. Her unpublished talks include: “Aryan and Semites in German Indology” (2019), “Deutsche Akademie`s India Institute” (2019) and the Indologist Ludwig Alsdorf in the Third Reich (2020). The last named paper was presented at the workshop “Knowledge of India in Nazi Germany,” which she organised together with Prof Epple. The workshop took place at the University of Frankfurt on 31st January 2020.


Jessie Pons

Jessie Pons is Junior-Professorin für Südasiatische Religionsgeschichte at Ruhr-University Bochum. She was a KHK Visiting Research Fellow (2013-2014) and a postdoctoral researcher within CERES (2010-2012) working on the project ‘Dynamics of Text Corpora and Image Programs: Representations of Buddhist Narratives Along the Silk Road’ which was funded by Mercator Foundation. She studied history of art, archaeology, Indian studies and museum studies at SOAS (University of London), École du Louvre, and the University of Paris. She received several grants from the Sorbonne (2006-2009) and a stipend from the Tokyo Ancient Orient Museum in 2007.

Her research focuses on Buddhist art with special attention to the representation of Buddhist narratives in Gandhara, in oases of the Silk Road and in the Indian Sub-continent. Her KHK project The Circulation of Divinities: Modes of Borrowing in the Depiction of Pantheons investigates the role of inter-religious encounter in the construction of early Buddhist and Brahmanic iconography in South Asia.


Markus Schlaffke

Markus Schlaffke studied Visual Communication and Fine Arts at Bauhaus University Weimar and works as a documentary filmmaker and media artist. Since 2012, he has been documenting efforts to preserve intangible cultural heritage in Afghanistan. He wrote his doctorate in the Ph.D. programme “Art and Design” at the Faculty of Art and Design at Bauhaus University Weimar on questions of the aesthetics of sensitive archives.


Isabella Schwaderer

Isabella Schwaderer is a lecturer of Religious Studies at the University of Kiel. She previously held posts at the Universities of Erfurt (2018-2021) and Jena (2002-2005). She studied Greek and Latin Philology and Philosophy in Würzburg, Thessaloniki and Padova. She received her MA in Ancient Greek from the University of Würzburg and her PhD in Religious Studies (Orthodox Christianity) from the University of Erfurt.
Her teaching and research interests cross between history, anthropology and aesthetics. In her study on the work of Stelios Ramfos (2018) she examines Greek Orthodoxy as resistance against, but also as a tool for Europeanization in Greece. The collective volume Annäherungen an das Unaussprechliche (2020) deals with the tangible and experiential side of religion in a diachronic manner with a focus on the connection of Germany and South Asia, which she pushes further in her current research project on the relationships between Religion, Dance and Race in Nazi Germany. This study is based on the press coverage of the performances of the Indian dance and music group Menaka in Germany from 1936-38. There she analyzes the discourse on topics surrounding India as a space where German cultural origins are negotiated as well as aspects of racist (voelkish) art. These press articles serve to reconstruct, on a broader scale, a panorama of ideas of India where colonial stereotypes intertwine with the search for a national and religious resurgence on racist parameters.
She has also published in the field of religion and gender, religious interactions in the Mediterranean area, and Islam in Algeria.


Florian Wagner

My broad interests are in colonial history, transnational history, comparative history, environmental history, and the history of Europe and Africa. I have recently finished my dissertation at the European University Institute in Florence entitled “Colonial Internationalism: How Cooperation Among Experts Reshaped Colonialism 1830-1950).” It shows how self-styled colonial experts who established the International Colonial Institute in 1893 reshaped colonial policies in fields as different as colonial law and labor recruitment, tropical agriculture and medicine, as well as the training of colonial administrators. I am currently turning the dissertation into a book.

My new book project is on the history of repatriations in a global perspective and examines the various attempts of European governments, NGOs, and international organizations to make migration undone. I use a critical approach to the concept of repatriation by situating it in a historical context that extends roughly from the 1960s to the 1990s.

My most recent publications explore African perspectives on the First World War and the Weimar Republic.  I also wrote on the interconnections between different empires and imperial lobby groups, and examined key concepts such as the “West” in colonial discourse.


Katharina Waldner

Katharina Waldner (Lizentiat: Classical Philology and Archaeology, Zürich; PhD Zürich and Munich, Habilitation: Religious Studies, Erfurt) is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Erfurt (Germany) and member of the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural Studies at the University of Erfurt. Her research focuses on Ancient Greek and Roman Religion and early Christianity (martyrdom, cultural context of 2nd sophistic); she is interested in identity formation, performance, ritual and (religious) experience and as member of the Erfurter RaumZeit-Research Group in the spatiotemporality of religion. Her recent publications “Die Ästhetisierung der ‘religiösen Erfahrung’ oder: wie sinnlich ist Religion? in Annäherungen an das Unaussprechliche: Ästhetische Erfahrung in kollektiven religiösen Praktiken ed. by Isabella Schwaderer and Katharina Waldner, (Bielefeld: transcript, 2020), 17–54 and Desiring Martyrs: Locating Martyrs in Space and Times ed. with Harry O. Maier (De Gruyter 2021 in print).


Simon Wiesgickl

Rev. Dr. Simon Wiesgickl is assistant professor for mission and culture at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hongkong. He has been an assistant professor for studies of religion and intercultural theology at University of Erlangen (2013-2016). His doctoral thesis dealt with german colonialism and the academic study of the Old Testament (Wiesgickl, Simon, Das Alte Testament als deutsche Kolonie, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 2018). He edited several books on postcolonial theologies. 


Heidemarie Winkel

Heidemarie Winkel is Professor of Sociology at Bielefeld University, Germany, and Senior Research Associate at St. Edmund’s College/University of Cambridge. Her current research areas are transcultural gender sociology and global sociology of religion with a particular interest in knowledge production from a postcolonial perspective, notions of equality, and Arab societies. Currently, she is member of the ZiF Research Group GLOBAL CONTESTATIONS OF WOMEN’S AND GENDER RIGHTS.

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