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Eleonor Marcussen, M.A.


Eleonor Marcussen, M.A.

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About Eleonor Marcussen

Abstract: 'Acts of Aid: Politics of Relief and Reconstruction after the Bihar Earthquake 1934' (dissertation working title)

A devastating earthquake caused about 20,000 deaths, ruined infrastructure and buildings as well as agricultural land in state of Bihar in eastern India in the year 1934. In my dissertation, this earthquake serves as a case in point for analysing cultural interpretations as well as ensuing coping and recovery processes that emerged in its aftermath. By studying human beings’ interpretations and reactions, the dissertation aims to contribute to a larger discussion on nature and culture, in particular in relation to ‘natural’ disasters. With a focus on the plurality of perceptions of, and reactions to disasters, the dissertation refrains from providing a factual historical reconstruction of events, instead analysing how natural disasters trigger existential reflections and human agency. Whether we look at famines, floods or earthquakes, today’s dominant discourse on disasters maintains that there are no so-called ‘natural’ disasters, only natural hazards. This approach stresses the importance of governance and local knowledge in coping with natural hazards; their failure turns natural hazards into ‘man-made’ disasters. Historical natural disasters such as earthquakes have received little scholarly attention in South Asian historiography: environmental historians have dealt with human perceptions of nature, the impact of colonial governance, the implications of landscape engineering, adding to social and economic history on man-made and ‘natural’ causes of famines.
By investigating perceptions, coping mechanisms and recovery process after the Bihar earthquake in 1934, this present study intends to add to history written about environmental- and social catastrophes such as famines and floods.


Curriculum vitae

Since June 2009: Ph.D. candidate, Junior Research Group "Cultures of Disaster", Heidelberg University. '"Shaken Earth, Stirred People": The Politics of Relief and Reconstruction after the Bihar Earthquake 1934' (working title).
Advisors: Prof. Dr. Gita Dharampal-Frick, History of South Asia, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University. Prof. Dr. Gerrit Jasper Schenk, Junior Research Group Leader A6 ('Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe'), Professor in Medieval History, TU Darmstadt.

2008-2009: M.A. course in Hindi. Uppsala University, Sweden
M.A. thesis: “Gender as a genre in women’s oral tradition in India”

2008: UNICEF India Summer Internship Team-based two months field study on social inclusive practices in health programmes in government schools in Jharkhand.

2007-2008: Hindi language courses. Landour Language School, Mussoorie, India

2007: Social sciences course on contemporary India. Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), Delhi

Master of Asian Studies. Centre for East and Southeast Asian Studies, Lund University; M.A. thesis: "Learning for life: Parents’ perceptions of their children’s education"

2005-2006: History and Anthropology of Religions. Lund University, Sweden    

2004-2006: B.A. Hindi. Uppsala University, Sweden

2003-2005: Indology, Sanskrit. Copenhagen University, Denmark

1995-1999: Schillerska Grammar School. Undergraduate studies in English, German, Latin, Spanish, humanities and social sciences. Gothenburg, Sweden


2009: Grant for research in India, M.A. levels in Hindi (Helmer och Ellen Smiths Stiftelse, Uppsala University)

2008: Sida’s Travel Grant for UNICEF India Summer Internship (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida)

2007: Minor Field Study (MFS) Scholarship  for field study (two months) in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand, India (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida)


Swedish, English, Hindi, Sanskrit, German

Selected publications

w. Benedict Mette:
Tagungsbericht The Transculturality of Historical Disasters: Governance and the Materialisation of Glocalisation. 03.03.2011-05.03.2011, New Delhi, in: H-Soz-u-Kult, 20.05.2011.

w. K. Chalyan-Daffner:
Tagungsbericht Hybridity of Historical Disasters. Nature, Society and Power. 25.03.2010-27.03.2010, Beirut, in: H-Soz-u-Kult, 06.05.2010.

Identity, Subalternity and Citizenship, with Kristine Chalyan-Daffner and Sarah Lüdecke, in The Development of Citizenship in a Transcultural Context (A11), Research Area A: “Governance and Administration”, Symposium in Athens, 07.12-11.12. 2009, pp. 29-31.