German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

Phone: Tel. +44-(0)20-7309 2050



Colonial and Global History

Research Area


Research on imperial history and the history of colonialism in Africa, India, and the Middle East has been an integral part of the work of the GHIL since its establishment in 1976. Current research at the Institute is engaged in contemporary debates on colonialism, post-colonial studies and global history.

Mirjam Hähnle

Life in the Grid
Urban Nature in City Utopias, c. 1600-1750

A portraiture of the city of Philadelphia in the province of Pennsylvania in America, showing the gridline plan for the city (1683)

How should human and non-human beings live together? How to distribute resources in a model society? In the 16th and 17th centuries, the place through which utopian answers to such questions were developed and tested was often the city. The project explores urban nature in literary and built ideal cities, focusing on utopian conceptualisations as well as everyday human-environment relations.

Mirjam Brusius

Empire, Heritage, and the Decolonization Debate

A group of seven workmen at Palmyra moving a massive capital on a wooden sledge by pulling it over wooden poles by means of a rope wrapped around the capital.

This project gives a transregional perspective on museums, collecting, and fieldwork as an imperial enterprise incorporating the British Empire, France, and Prussia. It shows how emerging survey methods and disciplines such as archaeology were instrumentalized in political, orientalist, and racial discourse in the increasingly contested landscape of the Ottoman Empire.

Christina von Hodenberg

Medialization and Empowerment
International Standing Working Group

Participants at the ISWG Medialization and Empowerment workshop seated at tables in the Seminar Room at the GHIL in 2019

The International Standing Working Group on Medialization and Empowerment explores the connections between the mass media and the proliferation of women’s rights and feminist movements in the long 20th century. Drawing on histories of the media, feminism, and gender, the group examines how the media has shaped women’s rights.

Indra Sengupta

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

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.

Collaborative Project

Education and the Urban in India
Research Group in cooperation with India Branch Office, Delhi

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

The group aims to examine the relation between education and the urban in a society that has undergone rapid and complex processes of urbanization in the seven decades since independence from colonial rule in 1947. A special focus of the group is on marginalization and its relationship with education and the urban.


India Research Programme

A picture of the rooftops and distant hazy skyline of Old Delhi

Operating through a network of scholars and research collaborators in India and Germany, the India Research Programme at the GHIL consists of historical research with strong social-science and interdisciplinary components. It focuses on four broad themes: 1) History and sociology of education and its relationship with poverty; 2) Labour history; 3) Politics of history and heritage; and 4) Movement of peoples, ideas, and images.


History as a Political Category
ICAS: 'Metamorphosis of the Political'

M.S. Merian – R. Tagore International Centre of Advanced Studies

Past and completed Projects

  • Merchandise of Power: Arms Trade and Control between Europe and East Africa, 1850-1919 (Felix Brahm)
  • Preserving India’s Past: Law, Bureaucracy and Historical Conservation in Colonial India 1904–1925 (Indra Sengupta)
  • Transnational Research Group: Poverty and Education in India
  • Archaeology, Nasser's Egypt, and the Making of the Post-War Past (William Carruthers)
  • 'The Great Plan for Mass Education': 20th-Century Colonial and Postcolonial Experiments in Education (Valeska Huber)
  • Georg Wilhelm Schimper – In Abyssinia: Observations on Tigre – Online Edition (Andreas Gestrich and Dorothea McEwan)
  • Female Education and Social Mobility in 19th-Century Sierra Leone (Silke Strickrodt)
  • Criticism of Colonialism from the 18th to the 20th Centuries (Benedikt Stuchtey)