German Historical Institute London

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India Research Programme


The India Research Programme (IRP) at the GHIL took off in January 2018 after the five-year Transnational Research Group  'Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor between the State and Private Actors: Education Policy in India since the 19th Century' came to an end in 2017. Working closely with project partners at well-known Indian universities and research centres, and a team of research scholars based at the India Branch Office of the Max Weber Foundation in New Delhi, the IRP has been engaged in long-term collaborative research on India, on topics such as education and the urban, and heritage and popular history. Further topics are the politics of space and working-class Muslim identity in Bombay (individual project), and the movement of images from Central Asia to Mughal India (a part of Bilderfahrzeuge – a BMBF-funded, transnational project). It is also a member of ICAS:MP, the BMBF-funded Merian Centre in India. Head of the India Research Programme is Indra Sengupta.


Visiting Fellowships

India Research Programme Fellowships at the GHIL

The India Research Programme offers visiting fellowships to senior scholars from India who are working on our areas of research, or are project partners in our research networks in India, including ICAS:MP. The fellowships include a month’s residency at the GHIL. The scholars are expected to conduct archival research in UK archives and contribute to the intellectual life of the GHIL, especially its India Research Programme, usually by giving a talk in the Institute’s lecture series and taking part in research network meetings on joint projects. They will also be expected to take part in the IRP’s collaborations with research partners in Germany.

Visiting Fellows 2022:

  • Professor Neeladri Bhattacharya (Formerly Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, currently Visiting Professor at Ashoka University, Sonepat), 1–31 July 2022
  • Professor Janaki Nair (Professor Retd., Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi), 24 July–20 August 2022
  • Professor Prabhu Mohapatra (University of Delhi), 1 July–31 August 2022 (ICAS Visiting Fellow)

Education and the Urban in India

Research Group

Education and the Urban in India since the 19th Century

A major thoroughfare in Mumbai, with roads on two levels, the building on the other side of the road are reflected from the glass facade of a modern building

Focusing on major Indian cities, the research group examines the relation between education and the urban as a category in Indian society, which has undergone rapid and complex processes of urbanisation in the seven decades since independence from colonial rule in 1947. The project is conducted by Principal Investigators from Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi), the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai) and the National Institute of Advanced Studies (Bengaluru), along with the Head of the IRP.

Individual Research Projects

Research Project

Selling History: Tourist Guides, Bazaar Histories, and the Politics of the Past in India in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries
Indra Sengupta

A photographs showing the ruins of the palace and temples built by Rani Bhabani, Murshidabad, partly overgrown with plants

This project examines historical tourist guidebooks and locally produced historical tracts that circulate around historical/heritage sites in Murshidabad in eastern India. The aim is to understand the mutually constitutive relationship between popular regional ideas of the past and the changing political sphere in India since the late decades of the previous century.

Research Project

Preserving India’s Past: Law, Bureaucracy, and Historical Conservation in Colonial India 1904–1925
Indra Sengupta

Indian moulders, supervised by a colonial official, at work. Qutb Minar, Delhi, 1856

Taking the 1904 Ancient Monuments Preservation Act as a point of entry, this project examines the relationship between colonial law, its implementation by colonial bureaucracy, and the ‘making’ of historic monuments in India under British rule. The study focuses on Hindu religious structures. It looks beyond policy-making and analyses the many ways in which Indians exercised agency when faced with state power ‘on site’.

Research Project

Education Hubs and the Changing Urban Landscape in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), 1949–2009
Debarati Bagchi

An image of the red brick building of Jawaharlal Nehru University, established in 1969

My project explores the complex connections between higher education institutions and the history of urbanization in post-colonial India. In order to understand the relationship between land, the rental economy and university–neighbourhood relations, I focus on two sites in the Delhi National Capital Region in the context of higher education policy between the University Commission of 1948 and the National Knowledge Commission of 2007.

Research Project

Migration of Images, Texts, Ideas, and Objects from Timurid central Asia to Mughal India, 16th–18th Centuries
Dipanwita Donde

Mughal manuscript miniature of the emperor Akbar receiving the Iranian ambassador

The project examines meanings, intentions, and ideas concealed in Mughal paintings that evidence transcultural encounters between central Asia and Mughal India. These hidden riddles reveal a rich archive of historical, political, social, and cultural memory, woven into a distinct pictorial tapestry, for constructing a legitimate dynastic identity for Mughal emperors in India.

BMBF-funded third party project: Bilderfahrzeuge: Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology

Research Project

From Girangaon to ‘Mini-Pakistan’: The Precarious Place of Working Muslims in 20th Century Bombay
Robert Rahman Raman

Map of Bombay, taken from Baedeker, 1914

The project explores the transformation of localities in Bombay from 'working-class neighbourhoods' with many Muslim inhabitants in the early decades of the twentieth century into 'Muslim neighbourhoods' (or 'Mini-Pakistan') in public discourse and in the changing politics of Bombay in the years following India’s independence. The study is based on Girangaon, the erstwhile mill district of the city.


Collaborative Projects


Collaborative Projects


History as a Political Category

M.S. Merian – R. Tagore International Centre of Advanced Studies: ‘Metamorphoses of the Political’

Collaborative Project


Bilderfahrzeuge – Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology


Past and completed projects

Schools, Colleges, and the Creation of a Suburb: An Education History of Nineteenth Century Uttarpara (Akash Bhattacharya, 2018–2019)

German-speaking Jewish refugees and India, 1930s–1950s (Joseph Cronin, 2017–19)

Transnational Research Group: Poverty and Education in India – a transnational collaborative project funded by the Max Weber Stiftung and directed by the GHIL (2013–2017)


India Branch Office Publications


Education and the Urban working papers

Anasua Chatterjee, ‘Exclusion, Urbanity and Education: A Case Study of a Muslim Neighbourhood in Kolkata’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2019/1 [open access]

Jyotsna Jha and Puja Minni, ‘Bridging Old Gaps, Building New Barriers: A Study of Online Admissions under the Right to Education Act in Bangalore Urban Private Unaided Schools’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2019/2 [open access]

Farah Farooqi, ‘Understanding Life and Education in an Urban ‘Ghetto’: Shafiq Memorial and Bara Hindu Rao, Delhi’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2019/3 [open access]

Nirmali Goswami, ‘“Ours is a semi-English medium school.” Schooling aspirations and a neighbourhood school in Banaras’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2019/4 [open access]

Archana Mehendale and Swagata Raha, ‘Schools as Safe Spaces: An Analysis of Public Narratives and Policy Actions in Bengaluru’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2020/5 [open access]

Sadhna Saxena, ‘Changing Urban Education Trends: Case Study of a ‘Small Town’ in Madhya Pradesh’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2020/6 [open access]

Yamini Agarwal, ‘Urban Marginalization, Exclusion and Education: The Widows’ Colony in Delhi’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2020/7 [open access]

Razak Khan, ‘Place of Knowledge: Education and Urban History in Rampur’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2021/8 [open access

Geetha B. Nambissan, ‘The Changing Urban and Education in Delhi : Privilege and Exclusion in a Megacity’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2021/9 [open access

Akash Bhattacharya, ‘Urbanizing Uttarpara : Philanthropy, Improvement, Education, c.1846 to c.1865’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2021/10 [open access

Nandini Manjrekar and Poushali Basak, ‘Public Education in Bombay’s Mill District in the Early Twentieth Century’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2021/11 [open access

Debarati Bagchi, ‘Education Hub in Sonipat : Exploring the Land-University Nexus’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2021/12 [open access

Mythili Ramchand, ‘Schooling the Urban Poor : Engaging with Teachers’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2021/13 [open access

Shivali Tukdeo and Amar Mali, ‘Urban Dislocations and the Politics of Educational Access : Metro Colonies, Bengaluru’,
Education and the Urban in India – Working Paper Series, 2021/14 [open access

Publications of the India Branch Office

Annual Reports

MWS India Branch Office Annual Report 2020

MWS India Branch Office Annual Report 2019

MWS India Branch Office Annual Report 2018


Other publications

Nandini Manjrekar (ed.), Gender and Education in India: A reader (New Delhi , 2020)

Shivali Tukdeo, India goes to School. Education Policy and Cultural Politics (New Delhi, 2019)

Geetha B. Nambissan, ‘The ‘Urban’ and Education in India: Section Editor’s Introduction’, in William T. Pink and George W. Noblit (eds.), Second International Handbook of Urban Education, vol.1 (Cham, 2017)

Geetha B. Nambissan, ‘Poverty, Markets and Elementary Education in India’, in TRG Poverty & Education in India Working Paper Series, 3 (2014)