Andrei Dörre, Stefan Schütte (Eds.)

Potentials and Challenges for Development in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan

Berlin Geographical Papers, Vol. 48

After gaining independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan experienced fundamental transformations of the political system, the economy and the sociocultural sphere. These transformations had various immediate impacts on the people’s daily life in terms of income generation, the provision with food and consumer goods, the management and use of locally available natural resources, as well as the availability of reliable social services, including health and education. Questions related to national belonging and religious identity represent another fundamental challenge of the post-Soviet era, requiring the search for new answers. Against this background, the student project focused on three thematic clusters including ten subprojects: I) ‘Economy: markets, trade, and agriculture’; II) ‘Connections and relations: rural-urban nexuses’; and III) ‘Culture and society: religion and identity’. The studies were conducted in close cooperation with the Naryn State University named after S. Naamatov located in Naryn Town, the administrative centre of Naryn Oblast’. Ten groups of up to three Kyrgyz and German students addressed specific issues through case study approaches applied in selected rural and urban settings of the province. The scope of the individual subprojects encompassed issues like the car trade and public transport system in Naryn Town, the bazaar economy of the city, trade and value chains of milk and other animal products, the management and utilisation of pastures and irrigation water, challenges related to drinking water supply, small-scale gold mining, endogenous development potentials, and the representation of national identity in the study region. This report includes a selection of the manifold results gained by the Kyrgyz-German student group, and presents six case studies addressing diverse topics

Marina-Elena Heyink

Where is Jawaharlal Nehru University? Tracking Changes in India's Higher Education Development

Berlin Geographical Papers, Vol. 49

In recent years, the phenomenon of nationalism has evoked much attention when negotiating the institutional design of India’s universities. Justifiably rejecting the political project of naturalizing or essentializing the concepts of nation and nationhood, critical public and scientific discourse, however, often reduces nationalism to its symbolic or idealistic dimension. On the contrary, material structures of public institutional spaces have received little geographical attention when approaching national ideals, aspirations, conflicts, and controversies. This is despite the fact that constructed environments and spatial designs form a substantial link between the nation state of India and its public higher education i institutions. Arguing that space makes a difference, the paper in hand raises nationalism as a problem of simultaneous positioning. By tracking India’s higher education development through the example of Jawaharlal Nehru University campus space, I will not only focus on nationalism as a matter of symbol and categories of consciousness but also on the material dimensions of institutional design, namely building distribution, constructional aesthetics, and spatial accessibility. Thus, this work offers perspectives that extend beyond the idealization or demonization of the various notions of the Indian nation.

Raphael Pinheiro Machado Rehm

Small scale variability in soil hydraulic properties in a headwater catchment of the Indian Western Ghats

Geographien Südasiens, Vol. 9

The Indian West Ghats are located in the monsoon climate with rainfalls up to over 3000 mm a year. Since the mountain chain is the source of almost all major Indian rivers, the characteristics of the headwater catchment areas are of great importance for the water balance of the entire Indian sub-continent. However, due to its proximity to the agglomeration areas of Mumbai and Pune, the previously rural Pune district in Maharashtra is facing strong demographic and economic growth and is thus increasingly affected by land use change. While these changes can be recognized from satellite data, changes in soil properties are rare avilable. Water affect a variety of physical, chemical and biological processes and by that almost every aspect of soil development and soil behavior. Conversely, the characteristics of soils for hydrological variables, such as the storage and provision of plant-available water, are crucial. In order to understand changes in the hydrology of a region, detailed knowledge of the effects of land use change on soil properties is required. This work should help to understand the characteristic of tropical soil formations in the northern Western Ghats and to show possible effects of different land uses on soil quality with a special focus on hydraulic properties.

Rafael Klöber, Manju Ludwig (Eds.)

HerStory. Historical Scholarship between South Asia and Europe
Festschrift in Honour of Gita Dharampal-Frick

This Festschrift in honour of Professor Dr. Gita Dharampal-Frick assembles a number of innovative contributions by friends, colleagues, and former students to the multiple research areas in the field of history of South Asia that Gita Dharampal-Frick has enriched over the last decades. The essays included in this volume address a broad number of topics and periods, ranging from transcultural encounters between South Asia and Europe, reassessments of colonial discourses and their legacies, novel approaches to the maritime history of the Indian Ocean, and to perspectives on M.K. Gandhi.

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.


Maya Burger, Nadia Cattoni (Eds.)

Early Modern India: Literatures and Images, Texts and Languages

This book presents recent scholarly research on one of the most important literary and historical periods of the /Early Modern /era from a wide range of approaches and perspectives. It contains a selection of contributions presented at the 12th International Conference on Early Modern Literatures of North India which provide fresh and new material as well as innovative methods to approach it.
The organizing principle of the volume lies in its exploration of the links between a multiplicity of languages (Indian vernaculars, Persian, Sanskrit), of media (texts, paintings, images) and of traditions (Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Muslim). The role of the Persian language and the importance of the translations from Sanskrit into Persian are discussed in light of the translational turn. The relations between various yogic traditions, especially of Nath origin, from Kabir and other sampradayas, are reconsidered.