Christof Zotter

Asketen auf Zeit
Das brahmanische Initiationsritual der Bāhun und Chetrī im Kathmandu-Tal

After its integration into the series of life-cycle rituals (saṃskāra) in the first millennium BC, the Brahmanical initiation (upanayana) underwent continual revision and reinterpretation. Today it is performed during a ritual complex called vratabandha, in which it is conducted together with three other saṃskāras, the whole set being embedded in a preliminary and framing ritual.

For the present volume, a combination of textual studies and fieldwork was employed to examine the principles by which a particular Vedic school (the White Yajurveda) and a concrete context (the vratabandha of Nepalese Bāhuns and Chetrīs) combines and adapts elements of different types of ritual (saṃskāra, pūjā, homa, etc.) in order to accommodate itself to changing times and circumstances.

The detailed formal analysis provides a key to interpreting the meaning of the whole complex of acts that constitute a vratabandha, in which the initiate temporarily becomes an ascetic in order to be initiated into his future householder role as a ritual practitioner.   

Markus Schleiter

Die Birhor - Ethnographie und die Folgen
Ein indischer "Stamm" im Spiegel kolonialer und postkolonialer Beschreibungen

Die Birhor sind eine indische ‚Stammesgruppe’. Bekannt sind die Birhor als Spezialisten für Seilherstellung, Affenjagd, Heilkräuter und andere Waldprodukte. In diesem Buch untersucht der Autor die ethnographischen Darstellungen dieser Gruppe über Ansätze der Postcolonial Studies und zeigt dabei Widersprüche, aber auch erstaunliche Gemeinsamkeiten von den ersten kolonialen Berichten seit 1865 bis hin zu den neuesten Ethnographien. Anhand einer eigenen einjährigen „Teilnehmenden Beobachtung“ in deren Siedlungen deckt der Autor auf, dass diese Beschreibungen der Birhor – unter anderem als „unschuldige“ und „fröhliche“ „Jäger und Sammler“ – erhebliche ambivalente Konsequenzen für diese selbst haben. Diese Auswirkungen stehen in engem Zusammenhang mit der staatlichen Entwicklungsarbeit Indiens und umfassen Todesfälle durch Malaria.

Anna Martin

Übersetzung als kultureller Transfer
Eine Untersuchung persischer Versionen des indischen Vikrama-Erzählzyklus

The Indian king Vikrama embodies the ideal type of a just and generous ruler. We find tales about him in different Indian languages. Persian versions emerged during the sixteenth century, when the Persian language was one of the many literary languages and also functioned as administrative language in India. By the 19th century, the Vikrama stories had been translated into Persian several times.

This study examines a 17th century Persian adaptation of the Vikrama story called the Kišanbilās („Kišan’s dalliance“) by an author named Kišandās. Other Persian renderings of the Vikrama stories are also discussed for comparison. Kišandās’ rendering is here analyzed according to its alignment with Sanskrit recensions with a focus on translation and editorial strategies as well as a specimen of Persian narrative prose in terms of its genre affiliation and adaptions made for an intended audience.

Matthias Schmidt, Alexander Follmann, Julia Poerting (Eds.)

Aktuelle Forschungsbeiträge zu Südasien
7. Jahrestagung des AK Südasien, 27./28. Januar 2017, Augsburg

Geographien Südasiens, Vol. 8

Extended Abstracts der 7. Jahrestagung des AK Südasien, 27./28. Januar 2017 in Augsburg.

For further information on the series please visit About the series.

Jürgen Neuß

A Preliminary Catalogue of the Historic Monuments at Oṃkāreśvar-Māndhātā

In Māndhātr̥durga A Preliminary Catalogue of the Historic Monuments at Okāreśvar–Māndhātā Jürgen Neuß offers for the first time a comprehensive survey of the extant historic remains at Oṃkāreśvar-Māndhātā, the most important place of pilgrimage in the Narmadā valley. Although the place has been known as an archaeological site since the middle of the nineteenth century, it has till date been overlooked that the remains are much more extensive and coherent than the rarely published archaeological notes, that deal with only a few monuments, suggest. This book provides a long overdue survey of the whole area which in essence represents a conglom­eration of three historic settlements. At the center lies a thoroughly structured fortification, Māndhātr̥durga, which represents the only preserved fortified city of the Paramāras of Dhāra in the Narmadā valley presently known to us.

Melissa Bayer

Large-scale land acquisitions in rural Cambodia
The case of Samot Leu Village in Lumphat District, Ratanakiri Province

Berlin Geographical Papers, Vol. 47

The mechanism of granting Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) to (inter-)national investors for agro-industrial exploitation was the starting point of a wave of large-scale land acquisitions in Cambodia since the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) issued a respective directive in 2005.

While ELCs are supposed to combine overall economic benefits on the one hand with poverty reduction and the compliance with environmental standards on the other hand, it turned out that there is a wide gap between the legal framework, which is supposed to govern the granting of ELCs, and its actual implementation on the ground. Eventually, the granting of ELCs led to severe human rights violations and several land conflicts, involving the local population, investor companies, political and economic elites as well as authorities. This situation is especially difficult for the Indigenous Peoples of Cambodia, who not just struggle to claim rights to their lands, but for whom land is also an essential component of livelihood.

Drawing on a literature review and the results of a two-month field study, this thesis aims at shedding light at the relationship between different actors of society and land as a resource in the context of asymmetrical power constellations within the land conflict of Samot Leu Village in Seda Commune, Lumphat District, Ratanakiri Province.

Marc Herter

Development as Spectacle: Understanding Post-War Urban Development in Colombo, Sri Lanka
The Case of Arcade Independence Square

Geographien Südasiens, Vol. 7

This study is looking into the matter of urban development in a post-war setting. Drawing on Guy Debord’s book titled The Society of the Spectacle, it argues that urban governance has become increasingly concerned with transforming the cityscape into a space for consumption tailored to the needs of a post-industrial society. As cities compete for international prominence and business investments, urban planners turn to flagship projects as tools for city branding. In post-war Sri Lanka it is believed that economic progress will remedy grievances and detract from societal issues regarding ethnic segregation, poverty or ethno-nationalism. On the empirical case of Arcade Independence Square, a newly developed high-end shopping mall in Colombo, this study shows how the government aims to draw attention away from such issues by commissioning large-scale infrastructure projects.

Sarah Hartmann

The Work of Medical Travel Facilitators
Caring For and Caring About International Patients in Delhi

Geographien Südasiens, Vol. 6

Medical travel facilitators play an important role in bringing transnational healthcare markets into being as they help patients seeking medical treatment abroad. However, little is known about the work of medical travel facilitators located at medical travel destinations, such as Delhi in India.

Ethnographic fieldwork shows that the facilitation model practiced in Delhi excels in comprehensive and individualised support of international patients, in which facilitators engage in a broad range of tasks that I suggest conceptualising as ‘care work’. These facilitators not only care for the overall well-being of patients but express their care in a particularly concerned, devoted, even affectionate manner. The way care logics and market logics are intertwined in the facilitators’ practices arguably challenges the dichotomy between cold economy and benevolent lifeworld.

Martina Franke

Hoffnungsträger und Sorgenkind Südasien
Westdeutsche Betrachtungen und Begegnungen zwischen 1947 und 1973

India and Pakistan were associated with different and changing anticipations. Medial protagonists, such as Hans Walter Berg, Immanuel Birnbaum, Thilo Bode, Klaus Natorp, Giselher Wirsing and Marion Gräfin Dönhoff, have taken their views on South Asia to the medial public of the emerging Federal Republic of Germany. They thereby allow not only an insight into the exchange relations between media and politics but also into collective social self-description processes in the complex time period of Decolonisation, Cold War and divided German reality.

This study focuses on the perception of the South Asian countries in a West German political public changing in the course of time. The medially transported views on Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, and the views on occurrences such as the conflict between India and Portugal over Goa or the German-Indian cooperation to build the steel mill in Rourkela reveal different perspectives. The perception of the political development in South Asia until the beginning of the 1970s was in connection with the debates on granting and use of development aid. In the course of this generational affiliations and different life experiences left an imprint on the self- and external perception.

In a phase of global social and political changes and a feeling of crisis in the West German society in the decades following the Second World War, South Asia served to supersede the own guilt, helped to solve the identity crisis and gave orientation and stability in times of democratisation and economic growth.

Oliver Corff

A Bibliography of Online Resources on Chinese Strategy, Security and Military Matters
Version 6.2, December 27, 2016

The bibliography presented here originated as a research aid. It is an ongoing effort, new material will be included on a regular basis.

Jaydev A. Jani, Peter Schreiner

The Satsaṅgijīvanam by Śatānanda
The Life and Teachings of Swaminarayana. An English summary of contents with index

Swami Sahajananda (1781-1830), the founder of the Swaminarayan Movement, considered by his followers as an embodiment of Krishna, let Swami Shatananda write the Satsangijivanam in order to vouchsafe that his presence and teaching live on among his followers in and through this text. The extensive work is composed in Sanskrit and is here presented in an English summary. The text describes the biography of Swami Sahajananda and is an important document for the religious situation in the Gujarat of its time; it testifies to the religious practices (festivals, norms and values for private and public life) by which Swaminarayan wanted to replace practices (like animal sacrifice) that were considered as abuses. The content of the text is made accessible through a detailed index.

Further research data is accessible via this Open Data Link:

Felix Otter

Die Revitalisierung von Vāstuvidyā im kolonialen und nachkolonialen Indien

Vāstuvidyā, the old Indian esoteric lore of building a house, has been the object of several attempts at revitalisation since the first half of the 20th century. This book examines these attempts in the context of ideological and historical developments with the methods of textual analysis. The relationship between the revived version(s) of Vāstuvidyā with the precolonial formulations of the lore, the relevance of the apologetic discourse of the indigenous sciences for the revitalisation of Vāstuvidyā, and the discourse strategies employed in colonial and post-colonial Vāstu literature are the central themes of the book.


Nicolas Schlitz, Julia Poerting (Eds.)

Aktuelle Forschungsbeiträge zu Südasien
6. Jahrestagung des AK Südasien, 22./23. Januar 2016, Osnabrück

Geographien Südasiens, Vol. 5

Extended Abstracts der 6. Jahrestagung des AK Südasien, 22./23. Januar 2016, Osnabrück.

For further information on the series please visit About the series.

Hannah Uprety

Between Exploitation and Economic Opportunity?
Identities of Male Nepalese Labor Migrants in the Gulf Region

Geographien Südasiens, Vol. 4

In light of the upcoming FIFA world championship in Qatar, increasing international attention has turned to the large role of foreign workers in the rapid growth of many Gulf cities, as well as the often problematic working and living conditions of these laborers. Considerably less attention, however, has been given to the ‘other ends’ of those migration processes, namely the contexts from which these people originate and return to. One of these contexts is in Nepal, where hundreds of thousands of migrants leave the country each year in search of so-called low-skilled employment. In light of Nepal’s considerably small population and weak economy, these practices have an enormous impact on the country – both financially and in terms of the social and cultural transformations that go along with them. The thesis investigates how these mostly male migrants and their families navigate through transnational lifestyles and how their identities are transformed alongside them. By drawing on qualitative empirical research conducted in 2012, particular focus is put on the re-definition of relationships and intimacy in transnational family practices and the often conflictual and fragmented negotiation of migrant identities. Thereby, the publication provides not only insights into a particular Nepalese practice, but also contributes to the increasingly influential field of critical migration research.

For further information on the series please visit About the series.

Fraser Stuart Patterson

Practices, Productivity and Perception
A Vulnerability Assessment of Rice Farming Households in the Eastern Ghats, India

Berlin Geographical Papers, Vol. 46

Vulnerability assessments are an increasingly popular tool for evaluating the susceptibility of  households, communities, regions and countries to environmental and social change. This study  adopts the model of inherent or underlying vulnerability and  develops a social -environmental  vulnerability index that is applied in a case study  of rice farming households in the Eastern Ghats  of India. Assessing the vulnerability of farming household sub-groups based on land type and  holding size, this study investigates connections between cultivation practices, land size and  vulnerability. The study finds that dryland, or rainfed, rice farmers are significantly more vulnerable  than farmers cultivating rice on wetland and while small-scale farmers are more productive than  large scale farmers, they are also the most vulnerable. The study concludes that while small-scale  farmer’s productivity can be related to higher application of fertilisers, greater use of high-yielding  varieties and more intense use of labour, this higher productivity can be seen as an adaptation  strategy to the higher vulnerability to social and environmental change.

Andrei Dörre, Hermann Kreutzmann, Stefan Schütte (Eds.)

Pamirs at the Crossroads
Changing challenges and perspectives

Berlin Geographical Papers, Vol. 45

The meeting ‘Pamirs at the crossroads’ was convened in the framework of the Pamir research project sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation as a final conference that was looking back at what was achieved by previous academic and scientific activities in better understanding the historical heritage for path-dependent development. A further aspect of the ‘meeting of minds’ was to develop a vision for desiderata, short-comings and urgent needs directed towards Pamir-focused development and research efforts. All persons who could follow the invitation to convene in Berlin were experts in their respective fields thus representing a wide range of different personal experiences, professional backgrounds and upbringings. It was attempted to create a cross-border perspective that was focusing on a remote region in all countries that claim to have a share in the Pamirs. By looking from the periphery on local developments, regional connections, national dependencies and global networks the web of multi-fold interrelationships and contrasting perceptions emerged and illustrated the complex challenges to which this meeting of minds could contribute only some glimpses. The two-day deliberations were structured in five themes, two keynotes, and one summarising statement.

Stefan Schütte, Hermann Kreutzmann (Eds.)

Making a living in Varanasi
Social place and socio-economic space

Berlin Geographical Papers, Vol. 44

The three-semester long project was implemented in Varanasi in close cooperation with Prof. Rana PB Singh and his colleagues and students from the Department of Geography at Banaras Hindu University and with the help of a number of established contacts in the city. We could form nine mixed groups of people with local knowledge and orientation that paired with a couple of students each from the Berlin team. The thematic focus was directed on ‘Making a living in Varanasi – social place and socio-economic space’. Beyond Varanasi’s attraction as a holy pilgrimage destination and place for worship we primarily looked at professions and locations that provide opportunities for making a meagre living by hard work. Consequently, certain trades and professions, groups and communities, individuals and office-bearers who kindly allowed us to observe, follow and sit with them during their working hours and to visit them at home contributed to form a selective mosaic of living conditions in Varanasi. All nine contributions in this volume are based on the findings from these joint-endeavours that were regularly discussed and re-adjusted during our bilateral discussions and plenary meetings at night in our temporary home in Varanasi. During a follow-up seminar back in Berlin the outcomes and results were again refined and processed to such a state that we could prepare the manuscripts in a manner that they fulfilled the formal requirements which a scientific journal would demand for.

Julia Poerting, Markus Keck (Eds.)

Aktuelle Forschungsbeiträge zu Südasien
5. Jahrestagung des AK Südasien, 23./24. Januar 2015, Göttingen

Geographien Südasiens, Vol. 3

Extended Abstracts der 5. Jahrestagung des AK Südasien, 23./24. Januar 2015, Göttingen.

For further information on the series please visit About the series.

Hans-Martin Kunz

Schaubühnen der Öffentlichkeit
Das Jatra-Wandertheater in Westbengalen (Indien)

Jatra ist eine im indischen Bundesstaat Westbengalen populäre Wandertheaterform, die sich im Laufe des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts vom Volkstheater zu einer bedeutenden Kulturindustrie gewandelt hat und mit seinen melodramatischen, aber oft auch politischen Stücken jährlich mehrere zehn Millionen Menschen auf dem bengalischen und Land und in den Kleinstädten erreicht. Die Dissertation „Schaubühnen der Öffentlichkeit. Das Jatra-Wandertheater in Westbengalen (Indien)“ von Hans Martin Kunz analysiert die von Kalkutta ausgehenden historischen Entwicklungen sowie die aktuellen Modernisierungsstrategien der Akteure dieses tourenden Musicalspektakels und legt dar, dass das Jatra-Theater entgegen seiner üblichen Kategorisierung nicht als Volkstheater, sondern als Massenmedium betrachtet werden muss und seine Rolle zentral für das Verständnis der westbengalischen Öffentlichkeit bzw. public sphere ist.

Andrei Dörre, Stefan Schütte (Eds.)

Utilization and Management of Natural Resources in Kyrgyzstan

Berlin Geographical Papers, Vol. 43

The training of students in the Department of Geography at the Centre for Development Studies (ZELF) of the Freie Universität Berlin includes the scientific preoccupation with theories of development, with social inequalities at multiple scales reaching from global to local arenas, and with questions of international development policies and practices aimed to ensure basic needs and sustainable development. (...) Following this approach, the project in 2013 was dedicated to specific issues of Kyrgyzstan’s development after 1991. The rural population of the post-socialist society depends to a great extent on the utilisation of natural resources, and the project focused primarily on the use and the management of natural resources that occur in the context of development efforts of governmental and non-governmental institutions.