Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS)
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Painting Fish Seller Bombay
Chittoprasad Bhattacharya: Fish Seller in Bombay; © Delhi Art Gallery Pvt. Ltd


Research Group Modern Indian History

When the Centre for Modern Indian Studies was established at the University of Göttingen in fall 2009, the Modern Indian History research group, initiated by Prof. Ravi Ahuja, was the first to take up work.

Courses are taught at the BA and MA levels in the teaching programmes of CeMIS, of the Seminar of Medieval and Modern History and of the Institute of Economic and Social History. They reflect the wide spectrum of South Asia’s extraordinarily vivid, innovative and diverse historiography. Lectures and seminars cover South Asia’s cultural as well as economic, social as well as political histories of the 18th through the 21st centuries. Far-reaching processes of historical change are teaching subjects as much as micro-histories of subordinated social groups.

By focusing our research on histories of capitalism in South Asia we hope to contribute to the recovery of social history’s critical edge. Doctoral as well as postdoctoral research is encouraged, developed and pursued on the following broad themes:


  • Labour history and history of work

  • History of capital(ism)

  • History of economic and social policy

  • Social history of industrial (urban as well as rural) space

  • History of infrastructure


The research group contributes to the weekly CeMIS colloquium and organizes additional reading groups, seminars and special lectures. It initiates international workshops (2010: ‘Space, Capital and Social History’, 2011: ‘The Politics of Poverty and the Politics of the Poor’) as well as internal workshops and, in cooperation with partners, summer schools for research students (2011 and 2012).

International co-operation, in particular with history departments in South Asia, is given special emphasis. Colleagues from the history departments of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, as well as from the University of Jadavpur (Kolkata) have been contributing to our teaching since 2010. An exchange programme for MA and PhD students with JNU’s Centre of Historical Studies was inaugurated in 2011.