German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

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



Yorim Spoelder

Visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Yorim Spoelder is a lecturer at Freie Universität Berlin and currently a visiting postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London, and the GHI London (2023–24). After studying in Maastricht, Taipei, Freiburg, Cape Town, and New Delhi, he completed his PhD at Freie Universität Berlin (2020). Spoelder’s research focuses on the modern connected histories of Europe and South and Southeast Asia, and his main interests include imperial history, the history of knowledge, urban history, critical heritage studies, and international affairs. Spoelder previously held various fellowships at the University of Freiburg, Freie Universität Berlin, and the IHEID Geneva, was a guest scholar at the EHESS Paris, and affiliated as a researcher with the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. He regularly contributes to the Asian Review of Books.

His book Visions of Greater India: Transimperial Knowledge and Anti-Colonial Nationalism, c. 1800–1960 will be published by Cambridge University Press in December 2023. The book brings together three stories that are usually told in isolation from one another, namely the archaeological recovery of a ‘lost’ Buddhist past along the Silk Roads, the linked projects of colonial archaeology in Dutch and French Southeast Asia, and the intellectual history of anti-colonial nationalism and internationalism in interwar British India. His second book project focuses on the changing predicament of Eurasian communities and, more generally, investigates the transformation of colonial urban culture and the dynamics of interracial sociality in British and Dutch South and Southeast Asia throughout the nineteenth and first of half of the twentieth century. Another ongoing research project uses the visit of the Prussian crown prince to British India and Ceylon in 1911 as a starting point from which to explore Anglo-German relations in Asia prior to the First World War.


Research Project

Mestizo Worlds
Eurasians and Colonial Urban Culture East of the Cape, ca. 1800-1940s

As a research fellow at the GHIL/IAS, Spoelder will be conducting research for his second book project Mestizo Worlds, which focuses on the identity politics and socio-cultural history of Eurasian communities in the Dutch East Indies, British India, Ceylon, and the Straits Settlements. Drawing on a wide range of textual and visual sources, the project foregrounds transimperial connections and comparisons. Caught between empire and nation, Indos, Anglo-Indians, Burghers, and Singapore’s Eurasians often acted as ‘cultural brokers’ and pursued very similar identity projects throughout the interwar period and the era of decolonization. Whereas the ‘Eurasian Question’ has primarily been studied through the lens of colonial governmentality, Mestizo Worlds explores processes of transculturation and political mobilization by focusing on the lived experiences of Eurasians in the colonial metropolis, specifically on community organizations, the home, gender, class, education, residential patterns, work, leisure, and sartorial practices. Moving beyond narratives of exceptionalism reinforced by the compartmentalized study of European empires in Asia, the project highlights the role of Eurasians as transimperial actors, key drivers of regional integration, and harbingers of a wide range of social and cultural processes associated with the advent of ‘colonial modernity’ in South and Southeast Asia.

Research Interests

  • Imperial history
  • History of knowledge
  • Urban history
  • Critical heritage studies
  • International affairs

Recent Publications

Visions of Greater India: Transimperial Knowledge and Anti-Colonial Nationalism, c. 1800-1960. (Cambridge, December 2023). (More information)

“Archaeological Treasures of Uzbekistan: From Alexander the Great to the Kushan Empire (Exhibition at the James Simon Gallery, Berlin)”, Asian Review of Books (October 2023) (Read here)

Review of Nile Green, “How Asia Found Herself: A Story of Intercultural Understanding”, Asian Review of Books (September 2023) (Read here)

“An ‘Indian Hermes’ between Paris and the Pacific: Kalidas Nag, Greater India, and the Quest for a Global Humanism”, in Elisabeth Leake & Bérénice Guyot-Réchard (eds.), South Asia Unbound: New International Histories of the Subcontinent. (Leiden, 2023), pp. 167-86.



More information on the Visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellowship