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Our institution encourages and supports externally funded projects. A number of affiliated researchers have succeeded in acquiring third-party funds. The research projects are funded by various sources, such as the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) or the German Research Foundation (DFG). Below you find some of the major associated projects.

Nepal Heritage Documentation Project (Pilot Phase)

Coordination: Prof. Christiane Brosius, Prof. Axel Michaels
Funding source: Arcadia - A charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin
Funding period: October 2018 - September 2020

The Nepal Heritage Documentation Project (NHDP) documents endangered monuments as well as intangible cultural heritage of Nepal. It feeds its results into a database and makes them available to the public. The new digital resource can be used for the management, preservation and protection of national and community heritage.

Entangled Parliamentarisms: Constitutional Practices in Russia, Ukraine, China and Mongolia, 1905–2005

Coordination: Dr. Ivan Sablin
Funding source: Sponsored by European Research Council (ERC)
Funding period: April 2018 - March 2023

The project addresses the entangled histories of deliberative decision making, political representation and constitutionalism on the territories of the former Russian and Qing Empires and focuses on the cases of Russia, Ukraine, China and Mongolia between 1905 and 2005.

Sexual Dynamis and Dynamics of Magical Practice in Graeco-Roman Egypt: Erotic Spells in the Greek and Demotic Magical Papyri (PGM and PDM) and their Cultural Traditions

Coordination: Apl. Prof. William Furley, Prof. Joachim Friedrich Quack 
Funding source: Sponsored by the German Research Council (DFG)
Funding period: August 2017–July 2020

The project aims at analysing the erotic spells of the corpus of the Greek and Demotic magical papyri (PGM and PDM) which includes both handbooks of spells and remains of actually performed rituals (‘applied magic’) mainly from Roman Egypt.

Buddhism, Medicine, and Gender in 10th–16th century Japan: toward a transcultural history of women’s health in premodern East Asia

Coordination: Anna Andreeva, Ph.D.
Funding source: Sponsored by the German Research Council (DFG)
Funding period: August 2017–July 2020

A study of childbirth and the arts of judgement in medieval Japan.

HERA: East Asian Uses of the Past: Tracing Braided Chronotypes

Coordination: Prof. Joachim Kurtz
Funding source: Sponsored by the HERA network
Funding period: September 2016–September 2019

The Collaborative Research Project “East Asian Uses of the Past: Tracing Braided Chronotypes” is located in Heidelberg, Madrid, London and Zurich. The group of researchers is interested in global co-productions of historical knowledge. Zooming in on interactions in and between Europe and East Asia since 1600, they explore changing perceptions and conceptualizations of time and temporality.

No Parallel? The Fatherly Bodies of Gandhi and Mao

Coordination: Prof. Barbara Mittler, Prof. Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University)
Cooperation: B4 "Transcultural Visuality", Pilot "Archiving Mothers and Fathers of the Nation"
Funding source: Heidelberg University (Excellence Initiative - Third pillar: Institutional Strategy), Humboldt Foundation (Anneliese Maier Research Award)
Funding period: 2014-2015, 2016-2021

Our joint book project focuses on two hyper-visible male protagonists of the twentieth century - Mohandas K. Gandhi (the "Mahatma", great soul, and "Bapu", father), and Mao Zedong ("The Great Leader", and "Chairman") - to pose a fundamental question: How have these flesh-and-blood men been transformed through the work of visual imagery into globally recognizable, transcultural "bio-icons" (Ghosh 2011). The collaboration includes the development of an open intelligent archive and an online exhibition on the making of these two global heroes but also the development of a number of teaching modules on Gandhi and Mao with students at Duke and at Heidelberg Universities. It is accompanied by several exhibits, one of them in Heidelberg: "Envisioning Asia: Gandhi and Mao in the Photographs of Walter Bosshard", organised in conjunction with the Museum of Ethnology in Heidelberg and the Confucius Institute at Heidelberg University. 

Global Religious History

Coordination: Prof. Dr. Michael Bergunder, Julian Strube
Funding source: German Research Foundation (DFG)
Funding period: 2016 -

The project aims at reconstructing the genealogy of a philosophical Tantra that distances itself from sexual practices, within the context of contemporary debates about the relationship between science and religion.

Graduate Programme "Religious Identities"

Coordination: Prof. Dr. Michael Bergunder
Funding source: State Graduate Sponsorship Program (Landesgraduiertenförderung)
Funding period: since 2015

The graduate programme fosters research from different regional perspectives focussing on mutual and multipolar exchange processes between religions.

History of Religion and Law of Premodern Nepal

Coordination: Prof. Axel Michaels
Funding source: Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Funding period: 2014 – 2029

With research units in Heidelberg and Kathmandu, the project studies a unique textual corpus available in archives of the Kathmandu Valley, which forms the basis for the still largely unexplored history of the many religious institutions and sites as well as of the jurisprudence of Nepal.

Mediterranean Imports in Early Celtic Central Europe (BEFIM)

Coordination: PD Dr. Philipp W. Stockhammer, Dr. Cynthianne Debono Spiteri (University of Tübingen), Prof. Dirk Krausse (State Office for Heritage Protection), Thomas Hoppe (Württemberg State Museum)
Funding source: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Funding period: 2015 – 2018

BEFIM is a collaboration of researchers from Baden-Württemberg that studies Greek ceramic imports and their meaning for the early Celts.

Quotidian Concerns

Coordination: Prof. Joan Judge (York University), Prof. Barbara Mittler
Cooperation: MC15 "Powers of the Press"
Funding source: Insight Programme (Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)
Funding period: 2013-2018

The project examines the texts, institutions, and practices that created and disseminated everyday knowledge in modern China. Specifically, it studies encyclopedias for everyday life and the periodical press.

China, International Organizations and Public Spheres

Coordination: Prof. Susan Brownell (University of Missouri - St. Louis, Visiting Scholar at the HCTS and the Institute of Chinese Studies 2014/2015), Prof. Barbara Mittler
Cooperation: MC15 "Powers of the Press"
Funding source: Heidelberg University (Excellence Initiative - Third pillar: Institutional Strategy)
Funding period: 2014-2015

The research project aims to understand to what degree China has actually been "integrated" into the world order over the past 150 years. It will also explore the impact of Western ideas on China.

Chinese Narrative Porcelains

Coordination: Prof. Sarah E. Fraser
Cooperation: Department of Porcelain, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Funding source: Field of Focus 3, Heidelberg University
Funding period: 2015 – 2016

The project investigates the impact of Chinese iconography upon European Chinoiserie (especially "German" courts) and motifs deployed in Meissen porcelain.

Chinese Periodicals

Coordination: Dr. Yu Chien-ming, Dr. Lien Ling-ling (both Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan), Dr. Hu Hsiao-chen, Prof. Dr. Barbara Mittler
Cooperation: MC15 "Powers of the Press"
Funding source: Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation
Funding period: 2012-2015

The goal of this project is to develop an interdisciplinary approach to the early twentieth-century Chinese periodical press. Integral to the project is the creation of a prototype for an archive (Early Chinese Periodicals Online, ECPO) that will facilitate the research.

Creating the 'New Asian Woman' (HERA SINGLE)

Coordination: Prof. Christiane Brosius, Dr. Melissa Butcher (Birkbeck College, London), Prof. Jeroen de Kloet (University of Amsterdam)
Funding source: Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) Joint Research Programme "Cultural Encounters"
Funding period: 2013 – 2016

The project analyses the new cultural geographies of gendered urban space in Delhi and Shanghai, focusing on 'single' women across the life-course.


Coordinators: Prof. Dr. Melanie Trede, Eric Decker
Cooperation: Heidelberg Research Architecture, Heidelberg University Library, Kompetenzzentrum Forschungsdaten
Funding source: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Funding period: 11 / 2016 – 7 / 2017

The project develops a concept for the digitization of Japanese handscrolls in German collections. The concept focuses on the virtual representation of 266 richly illuminated handscrolls made of paper or silk between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries in Japan. The challenges of the envisioned digitization project are the extraordinary physical dimensions of the scrolls (up to 20m in length) and the development and implementation of a joint digitization process with five partner museums and libraries in Germany, who own the scrolls. The future goal is to provide scholars, students and the interested public access to digital representations of the scrolls and to facilitate research of this unique and understudied material.
Project Homepage: http://www.zo.uni-heidelberg.de/iko/dijaq

A comparable website was developed by the coordinators and a number of collaborators for the “Hachiman Digital Handscrolls project” (HDH), http://www.zo.uni-heidelberg.de/iko/hdh/.

Garnet in South Asia

Coordination: apl. Prof. Jörg Gengnagel
Funding source: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Funding period: 2014 – 2016

The project studies text material from the 6th to the 13th century CE and creates a systematic survey of archaeological evidence in South Asia to correlate the extraction of garnet, its treatment and finally its commercialization. It is part of the collaborative project "Weltweites Zellwerk".

Hachiman Digital Handscrolls

Coordination: Prof. Melanie Trede
Cooperation: Heidelberg Research Architecture, Collaborative Research Centre 933 "Material Text Cultures", bitGilde IT Solutions UG, Berlin
Funding source: Field of Focus 3, Heidelberg University
Funding period: 2014 – 2015

The project is a pilot study to enhance digital presentations of movable image-and-text formats. The innovative open source system HyperImage is the pivotal tool employed to realize the aims of the project.

Ideas and Language of Welfare

Coordination: PD Dr. Susan Richter
Cooperation: Heidelberg Research Architecture
Funding source: Field of Focus 3, Heidelberg University
Funding period: 2014 – 2015

This project focuses on the understanding of public welfare, i.e. the governmental care for its subjects and their substantial needs, in colonial societies from the 16th century to the beginning of the 19th century.

Junior Research Group "Digital Humanities"

Coordination: Dr. Armin Volkmann
Cooperation: Interdisciplinary Institute for Scientific Computing Heidelberg (IWR), Heidelberg Research Architecture
Funding source: Field of Focus 3, Heidelberg University
Funding period: 2013 – 2016

The Junior Research Group "Digital Humanities" examines possibilities in the use of digital methods in archaeology and evaluates opportunities and risks associated with big research datasets.

Mobile Spaces

Coordination: Prof. Christiane Brosius, Prof. Ulrike Gerhard, Prof. Beatrix Busse, Dr. Editha Marquardt (all Heidelberg University)
Funding source: Field of Focus 3, Heidelberg University
Funding period: 2014 – 2015

The project develops and promotes new angles and methods for interdisciplinary urban studies and explores in which ways experiences and understandings of cities of the 'global South' and the 'global North' can be brought together.

MOOC "Academic Essay Writing"

Coordination: Dr. Andrea Hacker, Jule Nowoitnick
Funding source: Ministry of Science, Research and Art Baden-Württemberg
Funding period: 2014

This project aims to create a MOOC on academic essay writing in English, running on the OPEN EdX platform.


Coordination: Prof. Birgit Kellner
Funding source: German Research Foundation (DFG)
Funding period: 2012-2016

The project studies a passage from a text written around 800 CE, the Pramāṇavārttikālaṅkāra by Prajñākaragupta. The examination of this text is a starting point for an inquiry into the internal dynamics and external circumstances of the formation of a core theory of Buddhist epistemology.


Coordination: Dr. Armin Volkmann, Eric Decker
Cooperation: Kurpfälzisches Museum Heidelberg
Funding source: Field of Focus 3, Heidelberg University
Funding period: 2015 – 2016

The project develops infrastructure and workflows for retro-digitalisation and academic analysis of paper-based documents.

Search and Retrieval of Indic Texts (SARIT)

Coordination: Prof. Birgit Kellner, Prof. Sheldon Pollock (Columbia University)
Funding source: National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), USA, and the German Research Foundation (DFG): Bilateral Digital Humanities Programme
Funding period: 2013 – 2016

The project develops and disseminates standards for Sanskrit texts, based on the widely-adopted Text Encoding Initiative (TEI).

Images (from left to right):

1. Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz: Garnet Jewelry
2. Nepalese royal document
3. Hachiman Digital Handscrolls Project: Picture of a handscroll
4. Jeroen de Kloet: Mobile Media, Gender and the City in China