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Humboldt Foundation awarded Sumathi Ramaswamy

Sep 08, 2016

On September 8, 2016 Prof. Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University) received the prestigious Anneliese Maier Research Award by the Humboldt Foundation. With the prize money of 250,000 €, she will pursue research at her host institution, theHeidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS), over the course of five years. Ramaswamy is member of the Cluster’s advisory board and was involved in various research projects. She was invited by Profs. Christiane Brosius (Media Anthropology), Monica Juneja (Global Art History) and Barbara Mittler (Chinese Studies).

Prof. Ramaswamy will be involved in the HCTS and the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University. The cultural historian will collaborate with the Chairs of Prof. Christiane Brosius (Visual and Media Anthropology), Prof. Barbara Mittler (Chinese Studies) , and Prof. Monica Juneja (Global Art History). She will  cooperate with Barbara Mittler on a booklength study “No Parallel: The Fatherly Bodies of Gandhi and Mao” including the development of a digital archive and online exhibition. She will also engage in the production of a number of visual essays for the Tasveerghar House of Pictures on South Asian Masculinities with Christiane Brosius and she will conduct a series of Visuality Reading Groups in cooperation with Monica Juneja. Her projects will foster collaborations with students as well as senior scholars with the ultimate aim to promote critical Asian Studies in Germany.

To honor the award winners, an international colloquium was held in Berlin from September 7 to 10, 2016. In the context of this event, Sumathi Ramaswamy, Barbara Mittler and Christiane Brosius organised and chaired two panels with several postdoc and junior researchers, four of them from Heidelberg. Ping-Heng Chen spoke on “Aesthetics and Migration” on the panel “Visual Culture: Aesthetics on the Move” and Laila Borrie, Ann Katrin Yan-Dethlefsen and Emily Graf participated in the panel “Visual Culture: Heroes”. Prof. Ramaswamy, furthermore, gave a speech on “Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience”, prior to the award ceremony. The ceremony was opened by Prof. Helmut Schwarz, President of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation, then, Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister of Education and Research, held a speech. The program also comprised laudations, the presentation of the price certificates, a speech by Prof. Ève Chiapello (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris) as well as a reception.

Sumathi Ramaswamy is Professor of History and International Comparative Studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, USA. She studied ancient Indian history at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, before taking her Ph.D. in History from University of California, Berkeley. She is a cultural historian of South Asia and the British Empire with a research focus on visual studies, the history of cartography, and gender. Her work in popular visual history has led her to co-establish a trans-national digital network for popular South Asian visual culture called Tasveer Ghar together with Christiane Brosius and Yousuf Saeed.

The Anneliese Maier Research Award is a collaboration award to promote the internationalisation of the humanities and social sciences in Germany. It addresses researchers from abroad from the fields of the humanities and social sciences whose scientific achievements have been internationally recognised in their research area. Award winners are expected to spend a period of up to five years cooperating on a long-term research project with the nominator and specialist colleagues at a research institution in Germany. An award is valued at €250,000. It is awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The Foundation promotes academic cooperation between excellent scientists and scholars from abroad and from Germany.

Read the press release here or on the website of Heidelberg University.

Further Links:

Press Release by Humboldt-Foundation
Dossiers by Humboldt-Foundation


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  • Sumathi Ramaswamy (Picture: Duke University)

  • (Picture: Humboldt-Stiftung/David Ausserhofer)