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Cluster Researchers in Canberra, Australia

Feb 28, 2017

On February 20-21, historians from Germany, Australia and India met at the Australian National University to discuss the role and experience of Indians in the vast region east of India during the Second World War and its aftermath. Representatives of the Cluster “Asia and Europe” were Dr. Kerstin von Lingen, Milinda Banerjee, Takuma Melber and Lisette Schouten

The workshop was organized by the University of Marburg with financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU). Lead centres were Marburg’s International Research and Documentation Centre War Crimes Trials (ICWC) and ANU’s Southeast Asia Institute. Co-conveners of the workshop were Dr Wolfgang Form (ICWC) and Prof. Robert Cribb (ANU), with support from Dr Kerstin von Lingen (Heidelberg University) and Prof. Sandra Wilson (Murdoch University).

During the workshop, the researchers discussed the role and experience of Indians in the vast region east of India during the Second World War and its aftermath. In the turbulent years after 1941-42, when the Japanese imperial forces rapidly conquered much of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, Indians in the region had an unusually large number of roles.

The discussion focused especially on the conflicted loyalties of and difficult pragmatic choices faced by Indians in the region, whether as soldiers or as civilian residents, as the strategic and political situation changed dramatically. It also addressed the ambivalent attitudes of Japanese authorities, indigenous residents, and Allied commands towards Indians. Focusing on the contradictions between transitional justice and decolonization, the workshop identified new possibilities for innovative collaboration in research on the specific roles of Indians in this period, especially as judges and victims of war crimes and as nationalist activists.

At the workshop, members of Junior Research Group A 16 “Transcultural Justice”, Milinda Banerjee, Takuma Melber, and Lisette Schouten, presented their research findings. The network grant of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft also enabled the researchers participating in the workshop to come together for further conversation and discussion during the next couple of days.

Dr. Kerstin von Lingen is the Independent Research Group Leader of Junior Research Group “Transcultural Justice".


  • Workshop participants

  • Junior Research Group "Transcultural Justice" with Dr. Kerstin von Lingen