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Lecture Series on “Humboldt´s Heirs” in India

Oct 03, 2013

“Humboldt´s Heirs” was the title of a joint lecture series organised by the Heidelberg Centre South Asia (HCSA), a partner institution of the Cluster “Asia and Europe”. The lecture series started on May 1st, 2013 in Hyderabad and continued on September 26th – 27th, 2013 with a lecture by Prof. Ottmar Ette (University of Potsdam) in New Delhi and Mumbai.

The joint lecture series aimed at paying tribute to the different facets of Humboldt’s academic achievements and brought together scholars from the fields of Natural and Social Sciences, as well as Humanities and Literature. By doing so, the lecture series provided opportunities to learn about and discuss Humboldt’s unique contribution and how this is seen by modern scholars. Among German scholars, Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859) was certainly a personality of exceptionally high academic profile. Being a multi-faceted talent, he contributed to laying the foundations of many fields of modern science.

The second lecture of the series was held by Prof. Ottmar Ette (University of Potsdam, Germany) on two days at September 26th in New Delhi and September 27th in Mumbai. In his lecture “Alexander von Humboldt. Rethinking Accelerated Globalisation”, Prof. Ottmar Ette talked about Humboldt´s writings on globalisation. Furthermore he analysed how the development of the first European theory of globalisation inspired political leaders of the Indepedencia movement in the former Spanish colonies. Prof. Ottmar Ette is Chair Professor for Romance Literature at the University of Potsdam, Germany. His research focuses on Romance Literature and Comparative Literature. The inaugural lecture of the series was given by Prof. Dhruv Raina (JNU, New Delhi) about “The Idea of a Humboldtian Science” on May 1st, 2013 in Hyderabad. Prof. Dhruv Raina is Professor of History of Science and Education at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. His main research focus is on politics and cultures of scientific knowledge in South Asia.

The Joint Lecture Series was organized in cooperation with the Heidelberg Centre South Asia (HCSA), Goethe Institut Max Mueller Bhavan (MMB) and DWIH (German House of Research and Innovation) with the partners Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). The Heidelberg Centre South Asia (HCSA) is a partner institution of the Cluster “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” in Heidelberg. The DWIH is an institution that promotes the cooperation between German and Indian academics and scientists. The Goethe Institut Max Mueller Bhavan aims to present German culture through cultural events in India.


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  • Humboldt monument in Berlin, Germany

  • oil painting by Joseph Karl Stieler (1843) (sources: wikimedia)

  • group picture after the first lecture in May