German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

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



Colonial and Global History

Research Cluster


Research on imperial history and the history of colonialism has been an integral part of the work of the GHIL since its establishment in 1976. Current research at the Institute is engaged in theoretical and methodological debates on global history and post-colonial studies. Our current projects focus on seven topics, arising from the institute’s research on Africa, India, and the Middle East: trade and colonial regimes of regulation; slavery and abolition; migration and the construction of subjectivities; education, social change and the urban; cultural heritage and the politics of the past; science in imperial contexts; and circulation of artefacts and images. Since 2013, the GHIL has been an active part of several collaborative research projects on India, working with scholars from India and Germany.

Felix Brahm

Merchandise of Power
Arms Trade and Control between Europe and East Africa, 1850–1919

A group of African elephant hunters holding firearms, sitting in front of some tents and houses

This research project studies the extensive East African firearms trade between the middle of the 19th century and the First World War. It analyses the global networks of this commerce and assesses the social and ecological implications of firearms usage in different local contexts. It also analyses pre-colonial and colonial arms control and sheds light on the origins of international arms trade regulation.

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.

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.


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.

Past and completed Projects

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